As much as we hate to admit it, flu season is officially here. And after what’s happened over the last few years, it’s more important than ever for patients to take up the vaccination if they can - especially if they’re eligible for a free dose.
In 2021 and 22, a record number of people aged 65 and over chose to receive the flu vaccine - 82% specifically. You’re likely to be inundated with patients requesting this service and to avoid a medical negligence claim you’ll want to ensure you’re ticking all the compliance boxes. To keep claims at bay, we recommend following these four simple steps:
1. Always get your patient’s consent
As with any medical treatment, your patient will need to give their consent before being vaccinated. When treating young children, you must obtain this from a parent or guardian - someone with parental responsibility should know the child is at the appointment, be thoroughly informed about the procedure, and agree for it to go ahead.
Older children can consent to be vaccinated themselves, but you must feel confident in their maturity to make this decision. Similarly, you will need to ensure that adult patients are sound of mind before consenting to the procedure, which brings us to our second point.
2. Ensure your patient has the mental capacity to consent
To obtain consent from your adult and child patients, you’ll need to check they’re mentally sound before proceeding. If you have any doubt about their ability to process information about the procedure and make a decision, you should refrain from administering the vaccine.
The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) outlines two stages which you can follow to ascertain a patient’s mental health:
Does your patient have a mental impairment due to an illness or substance use?
Does this render the patient unable to make conscious decisions about their healthcare? The MCA defines this as when a patient can't understand, retain, or use information to make decisions.
When administering vaccinations on a mass scale in settings like care homes, where multiple patients might lack the mental capacity to consent, you’ll need to double down on consent. Ensure all paperwork is completed and family members are informed well ahead of time to avoid disputes later down the line.
3. Delegate, but take care when doing so
As a consultant, your time is one of your most precious resources. Don’t be afraid to delegate your vaccination administration to nurses or healthcare assistants - just take care that the people in question are trained to a high standard, as failure to do so could result in more patient claims.
4. Ensure you’re protected in the event of a claim
Even if you follow the three steps above, there’s still some chance you could face a patient claim relating to their flu vaccine procedure. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself and your practice with expert medical indemnity insurance.
We offer contractual cover, which stipulates inclusions and exclusions, and allows you to make an informed decision about where you stand concerning coverage.
Visit our website to set up a call or get a quick quote.