Aged care residents are believed to have received equivalent of four COVID-19 vaccine doses in an “unacceptable breach” of standards
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia has apologised after an untrained GP incorrectly delivered the COVID-19 vaccine to two aged care residents.
Professor Michael Kidd said it appears the two residents, from the Holy Spirit nursing home in Brisbane, received the equivalent of four doses of the vaccine.
However the exact amount is yet to be confirmed, with an investigation currently underway.
“A mistake was made—a human error and a serious error,” said Professor Kidd in a press conference on Thursday.
“This error should not have happened and we apologise to the residents and their families and the carers at the facility for the distress that this has caused.”
The two residents are reportedly doing “very well” and have no experience any side effects in relation to the higher-than-prescribed dosage of the vaccine which they received.
Healthcare Australia, the company responsible for the rollout of the vaccine in residential aged care facilities in Queensland, initially informed Health Minister Greg Hunt it had sighted copies of the GP’s successful certification of completion for training to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.
However Minister Hunt was consequently advised that the GP who administered the doses had not in fact undertaken the requiring training.
“They’d breached the protocols and not been honest about it,” said Minister Hunt.
Both the GP and the CEO of Healthcare Australia have been stood down.
An additional provider, Sonic, has been organised for the residential aged care facility.
“Healthcare Australia (HCA), is clearly at fault here. Two serious breaches have occurred,” said Professor Kidd.
“The doctor engaged by HCA acted without required training and delivered an incorrect result of the vaccine to the two residents,” he said.
“This doctor should not have been permitted to carry out these vaccinations without having completed the required training. The company did not meet its requirements under its contract with the Australian Government Department of Health.
“This breach of quality and safety has been unacceptable and, as the Minister has said, the company has been put on notice by the Secretary of the Department of Health that any further breach will see their contract terminated.”
Professor Kidd confirmed the incident has been reported to the Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland, which will make a determination about whether to refer the GP onto the Ahpra.
Healthcare Australia chairman Daren McKennay put out a statement on the matter.
“We share the community’s serious concerns about the incident involving two patients at the Holy Spirit nursing home in Brisbane and have immediately commenced an internal review to determine how it occurred,” said Mr McKennay.
“We apologise unreservedly to the patients and their families involved for the distress this has caused and assure the community that the error was isolated and will not be repeated.
“While the review is being finalised, Healthcare Australia CEO Jason Cartwright has agreed to step aside from his role and an interim CEO with extensive experience in the health sector will be imminently appointed. We will also further strengthen the Healthcare Australia management team with additional executive support.
“The health and wellbeing of all patients in our care is our absolute priority and we continue to work with relevant health departments to guarantee the ongoing effectiveness of the vaccination program rollout.”
AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, told AJP on Wednesday that, “in a big vaccine rollout like this, including the use of multi-dose vials, there will be isolated instances where mistakes are made.
“It’s important that every healthcare worker involved in the vaccination process has completed the appropriate training,” said Dr Khorshid.
“The investigation by the Queensland Deputy CMO and any other appropriate authorities should focus on system improvement and not be about attributing blame.”
Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone said the incident reveals that mistakes can occur no matter which profession the immuniser belongs to.
“What is most important here is the health and welfare of the patients affected and for all immunisers to reflect on the incident and learn from it for their own practice,” he told AJP.