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Typhoid vaccine recall highlights importance of record-keeping

The recent recall of a typhoid vaccine highlights the importance of accurate record keeping in general practice, it is claimed.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) alert over the recall of 16 batches of Sanofi Pasteur's Typhim Vi vaccine shows the need for “meticulous documentation” when prescribing and administering drugs - and in particular recording batch numbers - according to the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

The incidence should also serve as a reminder for practices and one-stop clinics to record a patient's full contact information and implement “robust governance systems” to allow tracing.

“Although thankfully, it does not appear as though the vaccine itself poses any health threat, the [MHRA] alert is likely to cause anxiety in many,” said Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, Mediolegal Adviser at MPS.

“Doctors have an obligation to provide open and honest information when things go wrong - in this instance, reassuring patients will help allay any fears. 

“The GMC's guidance 'Good Medical Practice' states that if a patient has suffered harm or distress, you must act immediately to put matters right. Doctors should be proactive in contacting affected patients, not least to offer advice on other precautions to prevent typhoid when travelling but to check those who may have already travelled.”

Concerns around the effectiveness of the Typhim Vi vaccine in some syringes distributed from 7 January 2011 following filling problems in the manufacturing process led to the recall.

This means some patients who have been vaccinated may not be fully protected against the disease.