A DOCTOR negligently caused the deaths of two elderly patients when he prescribed them inappropriate doses of a potent pain relief drug while he was surfing the internet, a court heard.

GP Rajendra Kokkarne, 37, arranged for frail patients Beryl Barber, 78, and Eric Watson, 86, to receive morphine sulphate after being told about their pain over the phone from a nurse at the care home where they lived. Mrs Barber was suffering from painful ulcers on her foot and elsewhere, while Mr Watson was suffering with a urinary infection and mouth ulcers. Robert Smith, QC, prosecuting, claimed at Leeds Crown Court yesterday that the drug was inappropriate for their individual circumstances and the dosage was far in excess of what should have been given to an elderly patient and 10 times greater than the normal starting dose. 

Both patients, who lived at the Charlton Centre for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care in Batley, West Yorkshire died from morphine poisoning.                      –DM

 He told the jury it was the prosecution’s case that during the afternoon of February 1, 2008, before and after he prescribed the drugs, the GP was ‘preoccupied looking at sport and other material on his computer’.

When police later interviewed him about the deaths, Kokkarne said in a prepared statement he had intended to prescribe a lower dose and was unaware he had made an error. DM