Title GPs urged to stay vigilant following WA vaccine fraud case Degree of recognition National Media name/outlet News GP Media type Web Country/Territory Australia Date 9/11/21 Description The RACGP has said it is ‘deeply concerned’ to hear of the incident involving a registered nurse at a practice in Perth and is providing support to the GP and staff...
Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC), said the alleged details of the case present an unusual and unique set of circumstances, albeit with the potential for far-reaching consequences.
‘The vast majority of practice nurses, practice administrators and GPs are absolutely focused on best patient care with dedication, with skill, with lots of knowledge – and are ideally placed to provide that care,’ he told newsGP.
‘Undermining a public health effort by issuing a false vaccination certificate or information actually affects all of us … and it’s something we can’t possibly condone.’
In addition to being a missed opportunity for a patient to be protected against COVID-19, Professor Morgan said a healthcare worker deliberately misrepresenting another person’s vaccination status could also have potential consequences for access to treatment, should they contract the virus.
‘They might miss their opportunity to get one of the antiviral or monoclonal antibody treatments that are increasingly in play to treat the early effects of COVID, to stop it becoming a dangerous life-threatening disease for that individual,’ he said.
Aside from the Perth case, there have been reports of healthcare workers issuing false vaccine exemptions, as well as instances where patients have accidentally been administered a lower dose or saline alone.
Professor Morgan said while it is only natural to encounter ‘a few hiccups’ when rolling out a vaccination program of this scale, knowingly undermining a public health measure cannot be condoned in any way.
‘We know that vaccines are there to partly protect individuals from disease, partly to protect the health system from too many individuals filling hospitals and partly to reduce spread, particularly to vulnerable people,’ he said.
‘So there are lots of reasons why it’s a bad look.
‘Most GPs and practice nurses are incredibly dedicated and trying to do the right thing.’
The incident involving the nurse was picked up by Dr Stevens, who was able to observe the nurse administering the vaccine, as per standard practice to have a second practitioner observe the process.
Professor Morgan advises that if a similar incident that could lead to suboptimal care does occur, it is vital that practices learn from the experience.
‘The practice should have a set of procedures so that as an organisation it can learn from that to prevent that happening again,’ he said.
‘And when it’s a serious issue with an individual then it’s appropriate to report to AHPRA or even the police, depending on the immediacy and seriousness of the case.
‘But, otherwise, most errors seem to be not about individuals consciously doing something wrong, but more about systems … [so] you ask “why?” again and again to try to get to the root cause of what went wrong and then think about a system approach to prevent it going on again in the future.’
Producer/Author Anastasia Tsirtsakis Persons Mark Morgan