Inquest into overdose death at leading London psychiatric hospital finds systematic failures by medical staff


A jury at the inquest into the death of a 39-year-old father of two, from Croydon who died whilst under section at Bethlem Royal Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Beckenham, South London, has found that ‘systematic failures in training and procedure’ by medical staff contributed to his death.

The inquest began on 2 March and concluded on 5 March 2015. It was held in the South London Coroner’s Court  and overseen by Senior Coroner, Selena Lynch. The jury found that the death of Derek Richards, who died on 19th May 2012 of a methadone and diazepam overdose, followed multiple failures by the hospital including inadequate training, lack of communication, poor record keeping and incorrect prescribing of medication. The risk of methadone toxicity and methadone and diazepam in combination was not adequately recognised or managed and this contributed significantly to the death of Mr Richards. Mr Richards’ family was represented by Kirsten Sjøvoll and Clair Hilder of Hodge Jones & Allen.