Widow of Yarmouth man who was addicted to drug gets £25,000 in damages from his GP
- Credit: PA
A widow of a drayman who took his own life after spending years in a 'zombie like state' while taking diazepam to treat depression, is to get £25,000 damages from his GP.
John Crow, from Great Yarmouth, was addicted to the drug for six years before undergoing a withdrawal programme.
The father of two launched a claim against his GP, Dr Sunita Nagpal, who is based at the town's South Quay surgery.
After he committed suicide in February last year, aged 57, his legal fight was taken up by his wife Geraldine, who alleged the doctor's decision to prescribe diazepam over a long period was negligent.
At a hearing at the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Andrews found that the drug made his condition worse and produced a 'crippling dependency' from which it became harder for him to withdraw. However, she concluded that his suicide was not linked to the medication, and his underlying condition remained untreated.
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Mr Crow was diagnosed with depression in May 2000 and prescribed diazepam and an anti-depressant by a psychiatrist.
He continued taking the drug, with Dr Nagpal responsible for six repeat prescriptions between October 2003 and April 2009.
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In 2009 he was made aware of the potential problems with the drug, which is not recommended for long-term treatment of anxiety disorders.
By 2014 his wife and daughters said he returned to the 'brilliant husband and dad they all remembered'. However before his death he said his symptoms had got worse.
Dr Nagpal accepted she should only have prescribed the drug long term under the supervision of a psychiatrist and that regular medication reviews should have been carried out.
She added that he was already addicted to the drug by the time she first met him and denied it was responsible for worsening his depression or imparing his recovery.
The judge awarded £25,000 damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and £5,768 to cover private treatment costs the family paid. She also said Mrs Crow should receive a sum for past care she gave her husband, at a rate of about £15 per day.