Australia

Doctor who administered incorrect dose of COVID-19 vaccine had not been trained

The doctor who administered incorrect doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to two aged care residents in Queensland had not completed the compulsory vaccination training.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the Department of Health to take action against the doctor and Healthcare Australia, the company tasked with providing vaccinations within aged care facilities.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said new information revealed the doctor had not completed the compulsory online training.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said new information revealed the doctor had not completed the compulsory online training.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The aged care provider that runs the Brisbane facility where the incident occurred said they will also report the doctor to the medical regulator.

Mr Hunt on Wednesday morning said the doctor had trained in Australia, was registered with the medical regulator and had undertaken the necessary COVID vaccination training.

However, shortly after question time the Health Minister corrected his statement, saying new information from Healthcare Australia revealed the doctor had not in fact completed the necessary online training.

I have asked the department to take action against the company and the doctor, for what is a clear breach on both fronts,” he said.

Mr Hunt apologised to the families of the man and woman from the Holy Spirit Nursing Home. Both have been admitted to hospital for monitoring.

He said Healthcare Australia was investigating the incident “and we are expecting a report later today”. He said the company had advised them that “the doctor has not been involved in the vaccine rollout in any other facilities”.

People are meant to get two doses of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks apart, but Mr Hunt said he’s been advised the doctor in question administered both doses of the vaccine consecutively. He then acknowledged reports the residents received four doses of the vaccine could be accurate.

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A nurse noticed the issue and stepped in immediately.

Training modules have been developed for healthcare workers delivering the COVID-19 vaccines, and Mr Hunt said “it’s a requirement that anybody who participates has completed those modules”.

The doctor had been hired by Healthcare Australia to assist with their task of vaccinating all aged care residents in Queensland and NSW. The company stood the doctor down following the incident, Mr Hunt said.

St Vincent’s Care Services, which runs Holy Spirit Nursing Home, said the incident had been very distressing to the organisation, the residents and their families.

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“It’s also extremely concerning. It’s caused us to question whether some of the clinicians given the job of administering the vaccine have received the appropriate training,” St Vincent’s Care Services chief executive Lincoln Hopper said on Wednesday morning.

“Certainly, health authorities and contracted vaccination providers should be re-emphasising to their teams the need to exercise greater care so an error like this isn’t repeated.”

Mr Hopper said St Vincent’s intends to report the doctor to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency over the error, and will now require Healthcare Australia or any other provider to confirm the training of healthcare workers tasked with vaccinating.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said national cabinet needed to be held as soon as possible to discuss the incident.

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The Premier will also write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ask for the federal government to provide regular updates about who they are vaccinating and the number of people who have received the vaccination.

“I want to know what training is being provided to the people the federal government is employing to administer the vaccines in our aged care facilities to give additional confidence. I want to know about the communication strategies for the next phases of the rollout of the vaccine - people need and must have full confidence in this vaccine.”

with Felicity Caldwell

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