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25th Jan 2017

UK uni fined for giving students equivalent of 300 cups of coffee for an experiment

The students suffered "life-threatening" effects from the botched experiment.

Alex Finnis

Northumbria University in Newcastle left two students with “life-threatening” side-effects after giving them the equivalent of 300 cups of coffee for a science experiment.

Volunteers Alex Rossetto and Luke Parkin were given more than 100 times the correct dosage for an experiment which aimed to study the effect of caffeine on exercise, and were both sent to intensive care for dialysis treatment.

The mistake was made because the dosage calculation was done on a mobile phone, and the decimal point was accidentally put in the wrong place.

Prosecutor Adam Farrer told Newcastle Crown Court that the overdose “could easily have been fatal”, and the University was fined £400,000.

They also stated they were “deeply, genuinely sorry” for the dangerous botched experiment.

The students, who both study sport science, were given 30g of caffeine, rather than the safe level of 0.3g – people have died from consuming 18g before, the BBC reports.

“The staff were not experienced or competent enough and they had never done it on their own before,”the prosecutor said.

“The university took no steps to make sure the staff knew how to do it.”

Alex Rosetto lost 12kg in weight after a six-day hospital stint, while Luke Parkin spent two days in care and lost 10kg.