Caffeine experiment overdose leaves students in intensive care
Friday 27th January 2017
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Newcastle Crown Court heard how students were learning about the effects of caffeine as part of a sports experiment when the incident happened. Part of the course involved a practical exercise where volunteers were asked to take quantities of caffeine to demonstrate the impact.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that two of the students drank a solution with 100 times the amount that should have been taken as part of the experiment at the university premises in Newcastle upon Tyne. Both volunteers immediately suffered dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and rapid heartbeat and were rushed to hospital where their conditions were judged life threatening. The court heard dialysis was required to remove the excessive levels of caffeine from their bodies.
HSE found that the university had not followed the strict procedures it had devised for carrying out experiments. The researchers' instructions were to use 200mg tablets, but these were not available, so the student researchers were given caffeine in powdered form. The students miscalculated the amount of powder to use and the two volunteers overdosed.
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A group of second-year sports science students at the University of Northumbria was taking part in a practical exercise to study the effects of caffeine when the incident happened on 23 March 2015. To measure the effects the stimulant had on physical performance, one volunteer was to consume a non-caffeine solution that mixed water and orange juice, while two volunteers – 20-year-old students Alex Rossetto and Luke Parkin were to have caffeine added to their drink.
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