Pharmacists in NH Giving More Vaccines

Side Note: Last week we talked about the uniqueness of the emergency room –specifically, how the acuteness of the patient’s situation, paired with the lack of a medical record, often produces a situation ripe with liability exposure and potential medical malpractice. Today, we face a similar situation –how pharmacists in New Hampshire are being allowed to give patients more vaccinations and how this impacts the physicians (and potentially their patients).

New Hampshire pharmacists are now allowed to give pneumococcal and shingles vaccines in addition to flu vaccines. And, although the pharmacists are required to inform the patient’s physician about the vaccine, we doubt that this will be an effective or enforceable policy. What happens if a patient doesn’t provide accurate contact information for the physician –or if the patient chooses not to mention if there is a primary care physician? Either way, it is conceivable that this important information may never make it into a patient’s medical record. And, if it doesn’t, who’s responsible? What if a physician administers a vaccine that was already give to the patient? Who faces the medically liability? At the very least, we are happy that these pharmacists are required to carry medical liability insurance.

Or, what if a patient has a complex medical history that doesn’t get communicated to the pharmacist? The determination to give one of the newly added vaccines may require a more nuanced evaluation of the patient that the pharmacist may not be able to give, or may not be aware that he or she should give, because the medical record is not present. Read on for other complicating factors.

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NH allows pharmacists to give more vaccinations
By: NORMA LOVE
From: BusinessWeek.com
Posted: September 4, 2011

syringesNew Hampshire is joining a growing national trend in allowing pharmacists to give more vaccinations than annual flu shots — but doctors oppose the changes in what appears to be a turf war over a profitable aspect of medical care.

A new state law lets trained pharmacists give vaccinations for a bacterial form of pneumonia that can be deadly and for shingles, a painful reappearance of latent chicken pox virus that affects the nerve roots and can produce a blistering rash.

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