House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Vaccination

2:00 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Can the minister confirm that two elderly Queensland aged-care residents have been given an overdose of the COVID-19 vaccine by a doctor contracted through the government, with one of those residents being hospitalised? Can the minister advise the House what steps the government has taken to ensure that all health professionals administering the COVID-19 vaccine are suitably qualified and trained?

2:01 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased to be able to answer the question. As advised by the chief medical officer earlier today, the government was notified yesterday evening that, indeed, two patients were provided with a higher-than-prescribed dose level. This was done in breach of the advice. The advice that I have from the deputy chief medical officer, who has conducted an investigation and provided a preliminary report, is, firstly, that the doctor in question was fully registered with AHPRA, had all credentials met and had indeed—and this has been confirmed both by the provider and through examination of electronic records—completed the full training. That training module involves ensuring that dose administration is carried out, that all stages are carried out, the proper techniques for drawing up doses, the supervisory role—so all elements of the training which could have been done and required were put in place.

Most significantly, the No. 1 focus has been on the health of the patients. In fact, at the advice of authorities, both patients are being monitored in hospital; I think that that's appropriate. We spoke with the Queensland government last night—the deputy chief medical officer, the chief medical officer and myself, with our respective counterparts. In essence, the training of this Australian-trained doctor, the credentials of this Australian-trained doctor and the specific training of this Australian-trained doctor were all carried out in accordance with procedures. Every one of those steps has been checked and rechecked, and none of those steps had been breached.

The advice we have from the deputy chief medical officer is very simple: the doctor involved did the wrong thing. That is a case of unacceptable human error. As a consequence of that, the doctor was stood down. The relevant body, HCA, has been in dialogue with the government today to make sure that all possible steps can and should be taken to ensure this never occurs again. However, all of the necessary required steps involving training were carried out.

We apologise to the families involved. The important thing—and we make this point sincerely—is that this is an individual act of human error. We've seen at many times in many circumstances that whilst a system can prepare, if an individual takes a step it is how we respond. There were three sets of safeguards put in place. All were brought into being. The provider and the government are taking those steps to protect these patients.