POLITICS

Questions and answers about case of Clayton Cromwell, who died of drug overdose

02/12/2015 04:00 EST | Updated 04/13/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - Some questions and answers about the case of Clayton Cromwell, who died after a drug overdose last April at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Halifax:

Question: How much methadone was found in Cromwell's bloodstream?

Answer: A methadone test found a concentration of 430 nanograms/millilitre of the drug in his blood.

Q: How does that compare to the amount of methadone an addict would be prescribed?

A: Management at Capital Health East Coast Forensic Hospital says that amount of methadone in blood serum is consistent with a single therapeutic dose for a person in a methadone program, depending on the person's weight.

Q: How risky can one dose be?

A: "The downside of it is that it can be toxic," said Dr. Evan Wood, an addictions medicine physician at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver and a professor at the University of British Columbia. "If not safely prescribed ... it can potentially have lethal consequences."

Q: What was unusual about the fact Cromwell had taken methadone?

A: The medical examiner says he didn't have a prescription for the drug.

Q: What lessons can be learned from Cromwell's case?

A: Wood said jails should have strict policies that require staff to witness inmates ingesting any prescribed methadone, but jails also face the possibility that some inmates take and later regurgitate it or smuggle the drug into prison. "This is just an absolutely tragic case," he said. "I'm very sympathetic to the family wanting to get answers and ensure something like this doesn't happen again."

Q: What has been the official response to Cromwell's death?

A: Management at Capital Health East Coast Forensic Hospital says they provide methadone treatment for inmates who were receiving it before their incarceration. The hospital says it sees no need for an independent investigation and is awaiting the outcome of a police investigation into Cromwell's death, which is not considered suspicious by Halifax police.