Mum died in bed after taking mix of medication

AN inquest has found that a Hartlepool woman died in her bed as she slept.

Town mum Diane Gales was found dead in her bed at home by her daughter Tina, the hearing at Hartlepool County Court, in Victoria Road, was told.

The 44–year–old, who had a medical history of asthma and was on a methadone programme, had been visited by friends and family on May 1.

But the following day she was discovered dead at her house in Borrowdale Street, in the Belle Vue area of Hartlepool.

Town coroner Malcolm Donnelly said a post-mortem examination was carried out on Mrs Gales at the University Hospital of Hartlepool to try to find out why she had passed away.

Test results showed that in her system there was a combination of prescribed painkiller gabapentin, methadone and a small amount of alcohol.

But Mr Donnelly said there was “no suggestion” that she had taken either of her medications to excess, and that “there was a degree of alcohol in her system, not an inordinate amount, but an amount.”

He told the deceased’s sister, daughter, and her daughter’s boyfriend, who attended the inquest that there can sometimes be problems with taking medication.

He said: “One of the problems with all medication is that sometimes it reacts with other medication.

“On another day it might not have affected her.”

He said the cause of death was “respiratory depression” which means Mrs Gales’ reflex mechanism which would allow her to breath while asleep had failed.

“That reflex was suppressed, which means that where you and I would have woken up, she didn’t,” he said.

“She just stopped breathing. She fell asleep and went into a deep sleep and just didn’t wake up.”

He added: “She was just pursuing her normal life and didn’t wake up from it.”

Mrs Gales’ family questioned whether she should have been prescribed the painkiller alongside the methadone.

They also suggested that she had not had any alcohol to drink for days.

Mr Donnelly said he could only be guided by what the medical evidence that has been provided to him states.

On concluding the inquest, Mr Donnelly recorded a verdict of accidental death due to the adverse effects of a combination of therapeutic medication and alcohol.