Georgia Littlewood, 17 and pictured above, took more than the recommended dose of paracetamol to cure a stomach ache. Unaware of the dose’s deadly consequences, she went to stay with her boyfriend.
But her condition suddenly deteriorated and she was rushed into hospital with severe liver damage. She died the following day.
The cause of death was acute liver failure due to paracetamol toxicity.
Her family is now calling for tougher restrictions on the drug. Speaking at an inquest into her death, Georgia’s family condemned the ease with you can buy paracetamol after a coroner said it was a “readily available medication across the counter which can be extremely dangerous.”
In a statement they said:
“You can buy paracetamol at 19p a packet in supermarkets – yet you should only be able to buy it from a pharmacist who tells you of the dangers. You should not be able to go into the shop with no one giving any advice.”
Tragedy struck on March 28 this year when Georgia woke up at 6.30am complaining of a stomach ache. She had taken an administration apprenticeship in September 2014 but had been complaining of headaches after long hours in front of a computer at her desk.
She called in sick at work and went back to bed.
But later her mother Joanne Littlewood received a text from her daughter saying she was going to stay over with her boyfriend Tom Keen. The couple watched television and went out to get a milk shake and pizza.
At 2am the next morning, Georgia was heard being sick in the bathroom.
Mr Keen took her back to her parent’s house where they rang an ambulance when she failed to recognise her mother.
At Huddersfield Royal Infirmary she told doctors she had taken paracetamol tablets but had not done so with any intention of causing herself harm.
She was transferred to St James’ Hospital in Leeds and was put down for a liver transplant but she sadly deteriorated, leaving doctors unable to reverse the damage done to her liver.
She died at 9pm on March 30 in the intensive care unit. Mrs Littlewood said:
“On the day she was taken into hospital she was mumbling and didn’t know who I was. I knew something was wrong straight away. I believe the overdose was a complete accident. She was a very happy girl making plans to go on holiday in July.
I don’t think she would have known the correct doses for taking paracetamol and would have taken them for a headache. She would not have known the affect it would have had on her.”
Mr Keen said:
“She was not making any sense, she was talking but not making sense. At first I thought she was having me on. I realised something wasn’t right. I woke my house mate up and we took her home. When we got to her house we got to the door and her dad opened. He asked if she had taken anything. I confirmed she had not. She hadn’t drunk any alcohol either. I went back home.
Her mum rang later and said the ambulance had been called and she had been taken to hospital. I did not see her take any paracetamol nor any other medication and she did not say she had done so. No medication had gone missing.”
Assistant coroner Mary Burke recorded a conclusion of accidental death and said:
“It seems likely to me that Georgia was not fully away of the apparent toxic effect of paracetamol which can develop over a relatively short period of time. I do not believe it was an intentional act on Georgia’s part to harm herself and conclude a result of ‘accident.’
It is important to use these circumstances to highlight to members of the public the risk that are present. Paracetamol is a readily available medication across the counter but can be extremely dangerous. There are doses as identified in place for a reason. If everyone does not comply with that there can be tragic circumstances evident in this case. If you take more than the recommended dose the body cannot cope with that.”