by Paul Stokes
20 September 2009
Over a third of GP
surgeries have seen patients suffering complications
after being misdiagnosed with swine flu including at
least three deaths,
a survey suggests.
Tamiflu - Patients
suffer complications after swine flu misdiagnosed
A total of 132
million doses have been ordered by the UK Government - enough for
the entire population with two doses each
Family doctors have reported effects
ranging from mild adverse reactions to the
antiviral drug Tamiflu to severe
case of tonsillitis, meningitis and pneumonia.
Three out of 205 family doctors and practice managers surveyed by
the health magazine Pulse reported a patient dying after being
misdiagnosed. Ninety one per cent of those polled called on the
Government to review its policy of offering Tamiflu to all patients
with swine flu symptoms.
The findings have been published within days of Government figures
showing a jump in the number of swine flu cases in the last week.
Experts have been predicting a second wave of the disease will hit
the UK in the winter months after a lull during the summer break.
There have been 67 deaths linked to the virus in England, nine in
Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales. More than 1.3
million people have been assed via the
National Pandemic Flu Service
for England with 522,890 collecting anti-viral drugs.
The Government is currently waiting for European regulators to
license a swine flu vaccine before issuing it to health workers and
at-risk groups across the UK.
Earlier this month prescribing experts called for the NHS to
urgently review the use of Tamiflu, with concerns that the public
has been misled about the effectiveness of the drug.
One GP, who did not want to be identified, told Pulse that a
patient had died from meningitis after being wrongly diagnosed over
the telephone. Two other practices, in Dorset and Wiltshire, also
reported that one of their patients had died. There has been a range
of lesser side-effect to anti-viral treatment including, diarrhea,
vomiting and lethargy.
Dr Ellen Wright, a GP in Greenwich, south London, whose son
contracted swine flu early in the first wave, said mild adverse
reactions to anti-viral drugs had been widely reported.
“There have been a lot of
complications, especially in children given it in schools at the
beginning of the outbreak, and I suspect that is what a lot of
GPs have been seeing.”
A family doctor in Derbyshire reported
the case a three year old girl who was diagnosed with swine flu and
prescribed Tamiflu by the National Pandemic Flu Service.
She was later found to have bacterial pneumonia and admitted to
hospital a few days later.
The GP said:
“It was unlikely she ever had swine
flu. It is near-impossible to diagnose a febrile illness over
the phone, and I am afraid one could miss meningitis or other
serious illnesses by presuming it is wine flu.”
Another GP in Tyne and Wear reported
that one of her patients who was initially thought to have swine flu
was later diagnosed with salmonella.
The patient was later admitted to hospital after extreme dehydration
as a result of the food poisoning. A deal has been struck with GPs
in the UK, who will receive £5.25 for each dose of the swine flu
vaccine they give to patients. It is hoped that at-risk groups, such
as those with diabetes or asthma, will be able to get their normal
seasonal flu jab at the same time.
However, GPs are being told not to hold off starting the seasonal
flu vaccine program until the swine flu vaccine arrives.
A total of 132 million doses have been ordered by the UK Government
- enough for the entire population with two doses each.