Immunisation errors reported to a vaccine advice service: intelligence to improve practice.
Lang S., Ford KJ., John T., Pollard AJ., McCarthy ND.
BACKGROUND: The success of immunisation programmes depends on the quality with which they are administered. The Vaccine Advice for CliniCians Service (VACCSline) is an advice service to support immunisers and promote excellence in immunisation practice, through specialist guidance and local education, covering a catchment population of two million people. All enquiries are recorded onto a database and categorised. Vaccine error is selected when a vaccine has not been prepared or administered according to national recommendations or relevant expert guidance. METHOD: All enquiries from 2009 to 2011, categorised on the VACCSline database as 'vaccine error' were analysed and subjected to a detailed free-text review. RESULTS: Of 4301 enquiries, 158 (3.7%) concerned vaccine errors. The greatest frequency of errors, 145 (92.9%) concerned immunisations delivered in primary care services; 92% of all errors occurred during either vaccine selection and preparation or history checking and scheduling. Administration of the wrong vaccine was the most frequent error recorded in 33.3% of reports. A shared first letter of the vaccine name was noted to occur in 13 error reports in which the incorrect vaccine was inadvertently administered. Consultations involving pairs of siblings were associated with various errors in seven enquiries. Failure to revaccinate after spillage (seven reports) showed a widespread knowledge gap in this area. CONCLUSION: Advice line enquiries provide intelligence to alert immunisers to the errors that are commonly reported and may serve to highlight processes that predispose to errors, thus informing immuniser training and updating.