GPs and nurses have been urged to take more care with immunisations after 108 patients, mostly children, were found to have suffered a mix-up when receiving vaccines such as MMR, The Guardian reports today.
Cases have involved the wrong child getting a jab, a wrong vaccine being used and under-18s being vaccinated without their parents' consent.
A survey by the Medical Defence Union (MDU), which defends doctors accused of malpractice, found family doctors had been involved in immunisation blunders affecting 98 children and 10 adults in the last five years:
In 56 cases, the wrong vaccine was given by either the GP or practice nurse, for whom the doctor is liable. Some children received the vaccine for meningitis when they should have had the three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella injection, while three were given the wrong flu vaccine. In a few cases, the wrong child was called through from the waiting-room and then immunised
In 19 cases, neither the child's parents nor the patients themselves had consented – 16 of them received the MMR jab despite their parents not wanting them to have it
In 14 cases, a wrong dose was given, such as a repeat dose of MMR when the child had already had it
In nine cases, the vaccine was given at the wrong time, such as MMR to a six month-old baby, seven or eight months too early.
"In most of the cases the child or adult had to be monitored for any ill-effects from the wrong vaccine, wrong dose and so on," said the Dawn Boyall of the MDU. "Obviously this will have caused some anxiety and inconvenience for the patients and parents concerned."
Adverse reactions to the vaccination occurred in only four cases, mostly adults, including an asthmatic who felt poorly after getting a flu jab. But the patient had to be reimmunised with the right vaccine in the 56 cases involving a wrong drug, which caused them more discomfort, she added.
In most cases, the parents complained and the GP's surgery apologised and monitored the child. The real figures will be higher because the MDU is just one of three organisations representing doctors, although it acts for over half the GPs in Britain.
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