Undercover inspectors to probe flu jab errors
Undercover inspectors posing as patients may be sent to some pharmacies to find out if the flu vaccine is being properly administered, it emerged yesterday.
It follows confirmation that at least 489 adults got a dose of flu vaccine that was too low, in various pharmacies across the country.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), which regulates pharmacists, said 75 pharmacists out of the 835 contacted so far had been found to have given the child's dose.
In a report to Health Minister James Reilly, the PSI said the misinterpretation was due to an error in training they received at Hibernian Healthcare Ltd, which offers a range of medical services and trainingto individuals and organisations, prior to pharmacists being allowed to give the vaccine from last month. The patients are being recalled for a booster jab but doctors said there was no risk in people getting a second vaccine.
The pharmacists have been giving the flu vaccine to adult private patients and medical-card holders over 65 years of age since last month.
The error came to light when one pharmacist queried why he was left with so much vaccine in the syringe.
As part of its checks on pharmacists, the regulator is expected to send around undercover 'patients' asking for the vaccine to find out if it is being given properly.
The report said all the pharmacists were identifiable and there would be one-to-one follow-ups with them.
The regulator said it was satisfied that pharmacies could continue to give the flu vaccine and it received assurances that those giving the jab would comply with guidelines.
The Irish Pharmacy Union said the vast majority of pharmacists who had been trained administered the vaccine correctly. "Equally, the vast majority of patients were given the correct dose," said a spokesman.
"Those that administered the incorrect dose followed the incorrect instructions given during a small number of training programmes. Regrettably, this resulted in some patients receiving an incorrect dose.
"Those patients are now being recalled and will be revaccinated shortly. Patients can have every confidence in the skills and competency of pharmacists to provide this service safely. The IPU and its members will continue to co-operate with all statutory authorities in taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure an error of this nature never occurs again."