GP who mixed childhood vaccines into one dose found guilty of professional misconduct
Efforts to reduce children’s pain were “benignly misguided” expert told inquiry
Earlier yesterday, Patrick Leonard BL , for the Medical Council, said the period of the allegations covered 2008 to 2011, but it was believed for many years before that, Dr Graham had been failing to follow proper procedures.
A Dublin GP who mixed childhood vaccines together to administer them in a single dose and caused 335 children to be revaccinated, was found guilty of professional misconduct at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry yesterday.
Dr Derek Graham, of Newcastle, Co Dublin, was found to have failed to follow correct practice by not administering the vaccines separately. This amounted to professional misconduct, inquiry committee chairman Dr Michael Ryan said. He had also failed to make accurate returns to the Health Service Executive and to maintain adequate records, which amounted to poor professional performance.
Dr Graham, who was cleared of unrelated allegations at a separate hearing earlier this year, chose not to give evidence at yesterday’s inquiry.
His contract with the HSE to immunise children was suspended in August 2011. The 335 children were offered revaccination 12 months later.
Earlier yesterday, Patrick Leonard, for the Medical Council, said the allegations covered 2008 to 2011, but it was believed for many years before that, Dr Graham had been failing to follow proper procedures. He not only mixed the vaccines when they should not have been mixed, he also administered them in the wrong part of the body. His records were inaccurate or misleading and when the HSE investigated in 2011, they could not rely on them. As a result, it was necessary for the HSE to engage in a revaccination programme.
Cathal Murphy, for Dr Graham, said his client wanted to minimise pain experienced by the children, who would have had to receive a series of injections. He admitted to poor professional performance but denied misconduct.
He said some parents continued to be happy with Dr Graham’s care and instead of having their children revaccinated by the HSE, they had them tested for immunity.
“Their children were fully inoculated against the relevant diseases,” he claimed.
Expert witness Prof Tom Fahy, of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, said he had never come across a GP administering vaccines in this way. Mixing was likely to affect the efficacy of the vaccine and was a serious breach, he said, and amounted to professional misconduct.
Asked about Dr Graham’s motivation to reduce the pain involved, Prof Fahy said Dr Graham was “benignly misguided”.
The committee’s findings will be sent to the board of the Medical Council, which will decide what sanction to impose.