GP suspended over palliative morphine dosage

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission prosecuted Dr Lamorna Osborne over the quantities of morphine prescribed and the method of administration to the two terminally ill patients at a nursing home in Sydney’s south.

In the final days of both patients’ lives, Dr Osborne prescribed doses of morphine in excess of the accepted therapeutic standards for palliative care.

She also admitted failing to limit the administration of morphine to subcutaneous. In both cases, she gave initial doses intravenously, in breach of the guideline for patients in residential aged care homes.

Patient A, who was opiate-naive, received not less than 370mg of morphine in the period 7–11 December 2011, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told.

The 53-year-old woman had been in a permanent vegetative state after a stroke and was in severe pain from a gangrenous toe. She was put on an end-of-life care plan after developing a chest