A man, who developed a gambling addiction after being prescribed dopamine agonists, has settled his claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication.
The man – identified only as “Mr L” – was diagnosed with Parkinson´s disease in 2004 and prescribed dopamine agonists to control his symptoms. At the time, the patient was not advised of the potential side effects of dopamine agonists – one of which is compulsive behaviour and, in particular, compulsive gambling.
In December 2008, “Mr L” was the recipient of an inheritance. In a departure from his normal behaviour, he started buying scratch cards and gambling online. As a result he lost all of the inheritance funds and fell into debt. Feeling unable to tell his wife of what he had done, “Mr L” became isolated and secretive, and his marriage suffered as a consequence.
It was only during a medication review at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in March 2010 that the possibility of compulsive gambling as a potential side effect of Parkinson´s medication was mentioned by a consultant neurologist. “Mr L” was referred to a neuropsychiatrist for help with his gambling addiction and his medication was changed.
With the help of the neuropsychiatrist and the change is his medication, “Mr L” overcame his gambling addiction. Thereafter he complained to the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that he had not been warned about the risks associated with his medication, but he was told that compulsive gambling had not been recognised as a side effect of dopamine agonists until 2010.
“Mr L” sought legal advice and, following the discovery of a report from 2008 which had linked compulsive gambling with dopamine agonists for several years, he made a claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication.
In his legal action, “Mr L” alleged that if he had been warned against potentially developing compulsive behaviour when he had first been prescribed the dopamine agonists, he would have known to have been on his guard against developing such side effects. This, he claimed, would have prevented the situation in which he had suffered financial loss and in which he and his wife suffered distress in their marriage.
Presented with a copy of the 2008 report, the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted that there had been a failure to warn “Mr L” about potentially compulsive behaviour, and settled his claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication for an undisclosed five-figure sum.