Practices warned over top five flu failings

  • Date: 30 October 2013


MDDUS is urging its GP members to ensure they are fully prepared for flu season by avoiding five common pitfalls in vaccination campaigns.

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. MDDUS advisers have indeed encountered a number of incidents involving 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."

To aid practices ensure their flu vaccination programmes run without any hitches MDDUS has compiled a list of five common pitfalls.

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

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

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

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

5. 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 all doctors to get the flu jab as it sends a strong message to those patients must in need of vaccination including vulnerable groups such as older people and the very young, pregnant women and those with certain chronic conditions. Latest figures from the Department of Health show the number of frontline health and social care workers who are vaccinated against the flu remains 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."

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

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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