Doctors warned over top five flu failings


For immediate release: Monday, 21 October 2013

Doctors are urged to ensure they are fully prepared for flu season to avoid jeopardising patient safety, says the UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS.

New Chief Inspector of GPs Professor Steve Field recently claimed “a minority of GPs are providing shocking care” with one of the examples cited involving failure to monitoring fridge temperatures for vaccines.

Indeed, MDDUS has encountered incidents where patients were recalled as a result of failure to monitor fridge temperatures.

MDDUS medical adviser Dr Naeem Nazem says: “We have had cases where GPs have been asked to recall patients following an inspection of their fridges where it was found their vaccines hadn’t been stored at the correct temperature and therefore may not have worked.

“As well as monitoring temperatures, the expiration date should also be regularly checked as we have handled cases where expired vaccines have been used.”

MDDUS has handled a number of cases involving failings related to flu vaccinations and is urging doctors to double-check everything is in order before carrying out vaccinations.

Five common pitfalls are:

Equipment – ensure fridges are functioning effectively and are at the correct temperature. Also, ensure syringes are sterile – one MDDUS case involved an empty syringe being reused

Dose – ensure the dose is appropriate for each patient. Another MDDUS complaint related to a patient being given two doses of vaccine

Vaccine type – ensure the vaccine is suitable for your patient. MDDUS has dealt with cases involving patients being given the wrong type of vaccine

Delegation – ensure those administering vaccines are entitled to do so. For example, healthcare assistants cannot administer vaccines under a patient group direction (PGD)

Consent – ensure you have patient consent and take extra care when vaccinating young children as consent is required from a person with parental responsibility

“Doctors can avoid some of these pitfalls by being up to date on NHS guidance,” adds Dr Nazem. “Alternatively seek advice from a senior colleague or your medical defence organisation.”

Dr Nazem is also encouraging doctors to get vaccinated against the flu as it sends a strong message to their patients.

While it is vulnerable groups such as older people and the very young, pregnant women and those with underlying disease that are most in need of protection from the flu this winter, doctors can show they take the threat of influenza seriously by getting the flu jab themselves.

Latest figures from the Department of Health show the number of frontline health and social care workers who are vaccinated against the flu remain disappointingly low at 45.6 per cent.

“There are many things for doctors to consider to ensure vulnerable groups are protected against the flu this winter,” adds Dr Nazem. “First and foremost, doctors can lead by example and get the flu vaccine themselves.

“This sends a strong message to patients and by protecting themselves, doctors are also helping to protect their patients too. Influenza can be carried in and out of hospitals and GP practices by doctors and other healthcare staff.”

GMC’s Good Medical Practice states doctors should be: “immunised against common serious communicable diseases (unless otherwise contraindicated).”


For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK. For further information on MDDUS go to

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