020 7650 1200

Man left with compulsive gambling habit not warned about side effects of Parkinson's drugs

Compensation secured by medical negligence solicitor for man left in debt after taking medication for Parkinson's disease

Posted on 20 April 2015

A man has received a significant sum of compensation after being left with a serious gambling habit that cost him over £70,000 after taking medication to control his Parkinson’s disease.

Medical negligence solicitor Angharad Vaughan represented the man, known only as Mr L,  in the case he brought against the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust when he was not warned about compulsive gambling being a recognised side effect of the medication he was taking to control his Parkinson’s disease.

Mr L was 54 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004. He was treated by a Consultant Neurologist at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

He was then prescribed various dopamine agonists, types of drug taken to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Mr L was not told about all the possible side effects of this type of medication, one of which is compulsive behaviour, in particular, compulsive gambling.  

In December 2008, Mr L received an inheritance and, uncharacteristically, started to buy scratch cards and to gamble online.

By February 2010 he had gambled away his inheritance and was in debt.

Mr L  felt unable to tell his wife and became increasingly secretive and isolated. Their marriage suffered as a result.

The  possible side effect of Mr L’s Parkinson’s disease medication was mentioned to him for the first time only In March 2010, during a medication review at Royal Surrey County Hospital, by the attending Consultant Neurologist.  

Mr L  had been unaware that a gambling habit could be caused by dopamine agonists, described his behaviour over the past year.

He was referred to a Neuropsychiatrist to help with the compulsive behaviour and his drugs prescription was amended over the following months.

Mr  L complained to the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that he had not been fully informed of the risks of the dopamine agonists, but was told that compulsive gambling had not been considered by the medical profession to be a recognised side effect until 2010.

The medical negligence team at Leigh Day obtained expert evidence from an independent Consultant Neurologist who reported that by December 2008 it had been well established for several years in the medical field that dopamine agonists were linked to compulsive gambling.

After receiving  this information, the Trust admitted that there had been a failure to adequately warn Mr L of the side effects, and offered a substantial five-figure sum in settlement, which Mr L accepted.

Medical negligence solicitor Angharad Vaughan, who represented Mr L in his claim, said:

“Mr L suffered considerable financial loss after being prescribed drugs that triggered a compulsive gambling habit.

“His relationship with his wife was badly affected after he started gambling in secret.

“If Mr L had been told that it was possible he could develop compulsive behaviour when he was first prescribed dopamine agonists he would have known to be on his guard against such behaviour and could have avoided the distress and financial loss he suffered.”