Coroner warns of self-medication

The death of an Invercargill man shortly before Christmas last year has prompted a coroner to speak out on the dangers of taking too many non-prescription drugs despite finding the man died of natural causes.

In his written findings released last week, Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar found Oliver Lindsey Scott (60) died of cardiac arrhythmia between December 23 and December 25 last year.

Mr Scott was found face-down on the floor of his bedroom on Christmas Day.

Tests showed high levels of ibuprofen in the blood, but a pathologist did not believe this caused Mr Scott's death.

Mr Crerar said Mr Scott suffered chronic neuropathic pain after surgery in 2008.

He said in addition to cardiac problems, Mr Scott had a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and what a specialist called "dangerous levels" of ibuprofen intake.

He said Mr Scott did not attend specialist medical appointments arranged for him and continued to self-medicate.

Mr Crerar said there might be a connection between the overuse of ibuprofen and Mr Scott's heart condition but found his death was caused by cardiac arrhythmia.

"While it is accepted that there was an extremely high concentration in the blood of Oliver Scott, it is unclear as to the extent this contributed to the death."

Mr Crerar said he released his findings to the media although Mr Scott's death was due to natural causes because "the public should learn the dangers of self-medicating and overmedicating".

A copy of his finding was sent to the Ministry of Health in order for further publicity on both the dangers of taking non-prescription medication in amounts more than those which are recommended by the manufacturers.

Mr Crerar also warned of the dangers of individuals failing to heed medical advice and self-medicating to the exclusion of taking prescribed medication and treatment.