Girl, 3, given drugs for cold before death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am


The cause of death of a three-year-old girl who was prescribed six different drugs for a cold could not be determined, the coroner said yesterday.

The Coroner's Court returned an open verdict on the death of Liu Hoi-ying, who had taken three of the six drugs shortly before she died in November 2009.

Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu presided over a two-day inquest. There was no jury.

Chan came to the verdict after considering the opinions of a pathologist, a paediatrics expert, and a pharmacology expert. He said he could not say what caused Liu's death. He gave his condolences to the child's family.

The court had earlier heard that Liu's mother had taken her to the private clinic of Dr Lawrence Chan Cheuk-wah seeking treatment for a cold several days before she died.

Liu was prescribed six medicines, including Bisocol, which contains codeine phosphate and ephedrine, as well as an antihistamine and a mixture containing another antihistamine - a mixture containing a drug for bronchitis dilation, paracetomol and ibuprofen.

Liu had also been taking Chinese medicine. The child suffered convulsions and fell unconscious before being taken to a hospital. After staying overnight, she was discharged.

Later, Liu's mother gave her three of the drugs that had been prescribed at Chan's clinic earlier.

About 10 minutes after taking the medicine, Liu had convulsions and was taken to United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong. She went into cardiac arrest and died.

The court heard that Liu had previously taken medications similar to those prescribed by the private clinic and experienced no problems.

Following an autopsy, the pathologist found Liu's blood contained codeine, an opiate; and ephedrine, a decongestant and bronchodilator. The pathologist found the cause of Liu's death to be bronchitis and parainfluenza.

Parainfluenza refers to viruses that are common causes of respiratory-tract infections.