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Am I at legal risk over hepatitis immunisation?

I read recently that a GP who is not immunised against hepatitis risks litigation. Is this true?

This has been reported to be the view of at least one of the defence organisations.

In a recent study only 57 per cent of GPs had been effectively immunised against hepatitis B. Only 56 per cent of practice nurses filled in a blood exposure incident form after a needle-stick injury.

Part of the problem was attributed to the very limited availability of occupational health services for GPs and their practice staff. However, this is unlikely to be an effective defence in the courts or in a GMC hearing.

All GPs are advised to check the immune status of themselves and their practice staff and to review their practice protocols for managing and minimising the risk of serious blood-borne infections.

A GP or practice nurse is placing themselves and others at risk of serious and potentially fatal blood-borne disease unless they have protective levels of antibodies and follow adequate risk-reduction procedures.

The practice has a duty of care to staff and to patients and there are very likely to be legal implications if either a member of staff or a patient becomes infected as a result of a failure to adopt sufficiently robust policies.

Dr Christine Dewbury, Wessex LMCs

Neither Pulse nor Wessex LMCs can accept any legal liability in respect of the answers given. Readers should seek independent advice before acting on the information concerned.

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