Nurse gives Hamilton boy wrong vaccine

BY NATALIE AKOORIE
Last updated 12:25 16/09/2009
MEDICAL MIXUP: Ryan Topperwien thought the worst when baby son Chace was given a vaccination meant for 12-year-old girls.
DONNA WALSH/ Waikato Times

MEDICAL MIXUP: Ryan Topperwien thought the worst when baby son Chace was given a vaccination meant for 12-year-old girls.

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A Hamilton doctors' clinic has changed its practices after a nurse mistakenly injected a six-week-old boy with a vaccination to prevent cervical cancer.

New parents Ryan and Keri Topperwien were horrified when they were told their son, Chace, had been given Gardasil instead of a vaccine meant to prevent meningitis.

The Hamilton couple, both aged 25, were "panic-stricken" when the incident occurred in May and had to ask the nurse at South City Health in Kahikatea Dr what Gardasil was.

Gardasil targets the human papillomavirus, which causes warts on the hands, feet and genitals and is responsible for 99 per cent of cervical cancers.

"She explained to us the reason why she had done it was because the two (vaccines) were next to each other and they were the same colour and she just picked up the wrong one," Mrs Topperwien said.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre reassured the couple their son was unlikely to suffer an adverse reaction. However, they wrote to the clinic's practice manager and a meeting was arranged with senior medical staff and a centre representative to discuss their son's welfare.

"One of our major concerns was this was an injection for a 12-year-old girl; we were worried about the content for his little body."

The couple wrote to Health Minister Tony Ryall and his office responded last week, saying the clinic had now changed its procedures and no longer stored the two shots side by side.

The parents were also told South City had been short-staffed on the day of the incident, but as a result of what happened immunisations would be double-checked by other nurses and shown to mums and dads before being administered.

Mr Topperwien said he wanted other parents to know it was okay to ask questions of a health professional.

"Don't feel like you shouldn't be asking because you're not qualified to ask."

The pair would continue to attend the surgery because they liked their GP.

They said Chace, now six months old, appeared unaffected by the extra vaccination and was a "happy baby".

South City Health practice manager John Parker said the clinic was not able to provide detail related to the matter for reasons including privacy.

"South City Health is very sorry about what happened and repeats its apology to the family," Mr Parker said. "What happened with this matter occurred in unique and unusual circumstances. Steps have been taken by South City Health to ensure that there will be no repeat of what happened."

Advisory centre district immunisation facilitator Michelle Tanner commended South City on its course of action following the incident. "They've done everything they can to be up-front and honest."

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- Waikato Times

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