Doctors who fail to offer appropriate and adequate guidance to patients seeking destination-specific holiday advice – in addition to the right vaccinations or prophylaxis – are risking a negligence claim.
The files of MDDUS include the case of one foreign traveller who died after contracting malaria. His doctor was accused of acting negligently by failing to advise him on how to take the drugs prescribed, but also by failing to advise on other preventative measures such as topical anti-malarial lotions and mosquito nets. A six-figure sum settled the case.
The number of malaria cases among UK travellers is down by 12 per cent, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA – 2007 figures). However, apparently four out of five (83 per cent) travellers had not taken malaria prophylaxis and many of the rest had not taken what was recommended for their destination.
There is a duty of care on doctors to advise patients on how to take anti-malarial drugs correctly and how to minimise their chances of being bitten by mosquitoes.
ACTION: offer advice on disease avoidance as well as vaccinations and guidance on prophylaxis.