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'GPs still fear legal exposure on flu jab'
[Posted: Fri 16/10/2009 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The IMO has said that despite assurances from the Department of Health, there are still a number of key issues regarding GPs' indemnity against legal action that have to be clarified in relation to the swine flu vaccination campaign.
According to the IMO, it has written to the three companies who currently insure GPs against negligence claims to seek clarification on to what extent GPs are covered agaisnt potential legal action by patients when they administer the H1N1 vaccine.
The IMO claims the HSE is giving GPs conflicting advice on key aspects relating to swine flu vaccine administration.
The Department of Health and HSE announced yesterday that GPs would start receiving deliveries of the swine flu vaccine from Monday and the scheme will officially begin on November 2.
Initially, GPs will be asked to vaccinate chronically-ill people under 65 years of age and pregnant women. This will be followed by all children, over 65s and healthcare workers before the general population is targeted.
One of the insurance companies, Medisec, today reminded its GP members that the State is not offering any indemnity cover to GPs in any way in relation to the swine flu vaccine scheme.
An IMO spokeswoman said that GPs would therefore have to rely on their own insurers for cover, but it was seeking clarification as to how far this cover extended.
The IMO says many GPs fear being left legally exposed under the vaccination scheme.
In a letter sent out today, the IMO stressed to GPs that once they formally sign up to the vaccine scheme, they have signed a contract making them legally responsible for indentification, call and recall of patients,workload etc.
It advised GPs that if they had any concerns they should clarify matters before signing up. The IMO said it was still seeking further medico-legal and administrative clarifications from the HSE, in addition to clarifications from the medical insurers.
The Department of Health yesterday claimed all issues raised by the IMO in relation to GPs administering the vaccine had been clarified to date but any further clarification GPs needed would be provided.
The IMO, in a letter yesterday to the three GP medical insurance companies, said it was concerned that conflicting advice had been given by the HSE in relation to a number of aspects of the vaccine scheme and it wanted to ensure it received uniform advice on indemnity from the three insurers.
The GPs' union has asked the insurers whether there is an onus on the GP to contact each at-risk patient in their practice about the vaccination; if the GP fails to contact a patient how many further attempts are regarded as adequate; and what was the legal situation when a GP is approached for vaccination by a patient who is not in his or her practice.
The IMO has asked the insurers whether when the latter happens if there is an onus to assess whether a patient is in an at-risk category or not, can a GP refuse to provide a vaccine service to people other than in their practice and would they be legally indemnified in the case of such a refusal.
The Organisation has asked the insurers whether they have sought advice from the Medical Council as to what a GP's position would be if they exercised their clinical judgement and decided not to vaccinate a patient not in their practice.
However, Medisec stated on its website today that their is no legal obligation on GPs to administer the vaccine to patients outside their practices, and it noted that the HSE has said it will make alternative arrangements for at-risk patients unable to get the vaccine through general practice, whether through the practice not being involved or for workload reasons.
Medisec has also said their is no legal obligation on GPs to trace at-risk groups of patients but they are simply being asked by the health authorities to use their best endeavours to do so.
The IMO has also asked if in the event of a shortage of vaccines, how does a GP prioritise patients to be vaccinated.
It has also asked the insurers whether HSE plans to inform the public on who is in at-risk groups needing vaccination remove the onus on GPs to contact their at-risk patients directly.
The Department of Health and HSE say more than 1,800 GPs have so far indicated their willingness to take part inthe swine flu vaccine scheme and a further 200 were seeking clarification.
The IMO has claimed that despite the fact that a large number had indicated they would sign up, many GPs are now having second thoughts due to the lack of clarity on legal indemnity.
|Gearoid1983 Posted: 16/10/2009 19:08|
As a person with mild/moderate asthma taking 1000micrograms of Beclazone per day I find the information is very confusing. While I am aware asthmatics are a risk category, is it only people who have previously been hospitalised with asthma? or are people like myself whose asthma is under control in need of vacination? The information is dire as one source seems to contradict another.
|Katiebelle Posted: 16/10/2009 22:08|
Well its hardly suprising. There are questions surround the level of testing of this vaccine . Remember in the US during the last swine flu outbreak more people died from the vaccine than died from swine flu ,
|informed Posted: 19/10/2009 01:29|
Pregnant women or infants/children should not be given Pandemrix H1N1 FLU VACCINE as one of it's ingredients Thimerosal i.e.( Mercury) has been linked to triggering brain damage in some children.
|buzz Posted: 19/10/2009 13:04|
Well said Informed, and indeed the mediums for all vaccines need to be looked at as it is not just swine flu that could pose a threat. It is generally excipients that cause any problems and not the vaccines themselves. in this day and age I fail to see why such bizzare mediums are used.
|informed Posted: 29/10/2009 01:49|
According to a study on cystic fibrosis called the ( Cochrane study on cystic fibrosis and the flu vaccine.)
The conclusions were that the flu vaccine was of little benefit to people
with cystic fibrosis or asthma.
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