Two students could have died after they were given far too much caffeine while taking part in a university experiment. Sports science students Alex Rossetto and Luke Parkin had volunteered to take part in a study to look at the effect consuming caffeine had on exercise.
However, after a huge error in calculation by science technicians at Northumbria University, they were given 100 times the dosage they should have received, meaning they consumed the same amount of caffeine as would have been in 300 cups of coffee in one go.
The two students suffered severe side effects and were rushed to hospital in a life threatening condition as a result of the mistake, which took place in 2015. Northumbria University has now admitted health and safety breaches, with Newcastle Crown Court hearing that the two should each have been given 0.3g of caffeine, which would have been the equivalent of three cups of coffee. But, instead, they were given 30g.
Both ended up being taken to intensive care, where they received dialysis to save their lives. Prosecutor Adam Farrer said the two students had been lucky to survive considering that people have previously died as a result of consuming 18g of caffeine.
The university used to use caffeine tablets for such experiments, but had started to use powder instead. However, the staff who measured out the powder were not competent and had never done so without supervision. The measurement went wrong when it was carried out on a mobile phone, but the decimal point was put in the wrong place.
Mr Rossetta, who is still at the university studying for a Masters degree was hospitalised for six days and suffered loss of short term memory as well as losing 12kg in weight. Meanwhile, Mr Parkin was in hospital for two days and lost 10kg. Both men have thankfully now made a recovery.