A DOCTOR who admitted to incorrectly vaccinating dozens of young children and babies has been found guilty of professional misconduct.
Dr Derek Graham's actions sparked a HSE investigation that led to it reimmunising more than 335 children who had been his patients over almost two decades.
Dr Graham, who practises in Newcastle, Co Dublin, admitted to a series of allegations against him in relation to the misvaccination of about 50 children between 2008- 2011.
A fitness-to-practise inquiry committee yesterday ruled that he was guilty of professional misconduct in respect to one of these allegations – that he mixed vaccines that were meant to be administered in separate injections.
The GP was also found guilty of the lesser charge of poor professional performance in connection with three allegations.
These were that he inaccurately recorded injections as being given in different limbs to the limbs they were actually administered to; that he used the PCV7 instead of the more up-to-date PCV13 injection on babies born after October 2010 when he knew or ought to have known this was inappropriate; and that he failed to maintain accurate patient records.
The medicines concerned in the case include the six-in-one vaccine, which immunises against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and hepatitis B; the MMR vaccine; and the PCV (pneumococcal conjugate) vaccine.
During the inquiry, Dr Brenda Corcoran, a consultant in public health medicine at the HSE's national immunisation office, gave evidence that Dr Graham's lack of records led to problems identifying the children affected when the matter came to light in August 2011.
"At that time we thought the total children were around 300. When we went public more children emerged, bringing the total to 335," she said.
Dr Corcoran said she had never heard of a doctor mixing vaccines before, and added that it was a basic premise of medicine that you didn't mix drugs.
She said Dr Graham told her he was continuing to use the PCV7 vaccine after it had been replaced by the PCV13 version because "he wanted to use his old stocks up".
Counsel for Dr Graham, Cathal Murphy BL, told the inquiry that his client was anxious and regretted any distress caused to the family members of the young children he treated.
Mr Murphy said Dr Graham's motivation was to lessen the pain inflicted on young children.
He added that there were a number of parents whose children were involved in this incident who continued to be happy with Dr Graham's practice as a GP and rather than take up the HSE's offer of revaccination, had their children tested and discovered them to be fully inoculated.