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Swine flu

Joe Collier: Price regulation offsets UK spend on anti-flu drugs

15 Jun, 10 | by BMJ Group

Professor Joe Collier Everybody now knows that while the outbreak of swine flu reached pandemic proportions, the disease itself was less severe than first feared. Illness and death certainly occurred but the original figures never materialised. Despite early estimates suggesting deaths in the UK alone of between 3,100 – 65,000, recent evidence indicates that the figure will be closer to around 400. more…

Tom Nolan on how to kiss during a flu pandemic

23 Nov, 09 | by BMJ Group

The first cases of H1N1 infection resistant to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) spreading from person-to-person were found in Wales last week. The spread of the resistant strain occurred at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and all five people affected have “severe underlying health conditions” according to officials.

Dr Roland Salmon, Director of the NPHS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: “The emergence of influenza A viruses that are resistant to Tamiflu is not unexpected in patients with serious underlying conditions and suppressed immune systems, who still test positive for the virus despite treatment.” more…

Andrew Rouse and Tom Marshall: Informed consent, the doctor and H1N1 immunisation

17 Nov, 09 | by julietwalker

How does a doctor obtain informed consent for H1N1 immunisation consistent with General Medical Council guidance? The Department of Health’s guidance does not provide sufficient information for this.  This is our attempt to rectify this omission, providing information required for informed consent consistent with good professional practice. We outline the main principles of General Medical Council on the responsibilities of doctors in seeking informed consent into practical guidance.  more…

Mary E Black on flu suits and holy water dispensers

16 Nov, 09 | by BMJ Group

Plagues create business opportunities and the worried well in any era present a commercial opportunity. In the Middle Ages, the Black Death and the Great Plague saw brisk sales in fumigators, herbal remedies, and the plague suit – predecessor of the DuPont TK555T HazMat suit, and equally unsettling for nervous patients. Quacks (from the old Dutch word Quacksalver, for one who boasts or “quacks” about his or her salves) thrived in an era unchallenged by scientific evidence and online Cochrane reports. more…

Andrew Potter on not taking the swine flu vaccine

13 Nov, 09 | by julietwalker

Andrew PotterIncreasing numbers of clinical staff at the hospital where I work declined invitations to be vaccinated against pandemic “swine” influenza. I think this is a worrying trend for both public health reasons and for the doctor’s integrity as a medical practitioner. There have also been reports in the popular press of doctors refusing the jab. As more NHS doctors object to what they perceive as an untried and untested vaccination, does the NHS as an employer, or the GMC as a regulatory authority have any recourse against these doctors? The GMC’s good medical practice publication, paragraph 77 clearly states: “You should protect your patients, your colleagues and yourself by being immunised against common serious communicable diseases where vaccines are available” [1]. With the current situation of a new vaccination against an infectious disease which likely has yet to bear its full impact, we need improved definition of the terms “common” and “serious” to support doctors whom decide not to be vaccinated. I also believe the NHS, either locally or nationally, should provide guidance on the matter.


1. General Medical Council (2006) Good Medical Practice

Andrew Potter is a GP trainee having previously worked as a registrar in cardiology, gastroenterology, and acute medicine. I currently work in obstetrics and gynaecology at Bedford Hospital.

Tom Nolan: New pandemic flu guidelines – don’t forget your oximeter

12 Nov, 09 | by BMJ

New guidelines on the management of pandemic H1N1 influenza were published recently by the Department of Health. They include guidelines on when to refer patients to hospital (see below) and an update on the epidemiology of the disease: fewer than 1% of cases are admitted to hospital; 12-15% of patients admitted to hospital go on to need high dependency or critical care; and mortality for hospitalised adults is around 6%. more…

Joe Collier on swine flu and ministries of fear

4 Nov, 09 | by BMJ Group

Professor Joe Collier One thing about the current swine flu pandemic is that it has brought with it a universal sense of fear. As with all fears, individuals respond differently, but we know what they are feeling because the sensation of fear, which varies from a mild anxiety to incapacitating panic, is so much part of our constitution that some see it as a normal component of the human condition. more…

Tom Nolan on what every doctor should know about the swine flu vaccine

30 Oct, 09 | by BMJ

The H1N1 vaccination programme is underway in the UK and many other countries across the globe. In Sweden a million people have already been vaccinated. One swine flu vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, expects to produce 440 million doses over the next few months. With newspapers, television and the internet raising doubts about the safety of the vaccine, many doctors will be consulted by anxious patients wanting to know whether the vaccine is safe and effective. more…

Tom Nolan on the swine flu vaccine

21 Oct, 09 | by julietwalker

The swine flu vaccine is officially here. The UK government announced on Friday that over 400,000 doses of the swine flu vaccine will be delivered to hospitals this week. The first to get the jab (from Wednesday) will be hospital inpatients belonging to at-risk groups and hospital staff. Next week GPs are due to start vaccinating patients according to their priority status, which are as follows (top priority first): people aged six months to 65 years with underlying health problems and the immuno-suppressed; pregnant women; household contacts of people with compromised immune systems; people aged over 65 with health problems. The Daily Mail are characteristically concerned about the vaccine, in particular its use in children. more…

Tom Nolan on flu: A lucky break

12 Oct, 09 | by BMJ Group

England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson can sound gloomy and pessimistic but he sounded very upbeat in this week’s swine flu update, saying: “We may have got a lucky break in how the virus has behaved at the start of our flu season and we may be able to get the vaccine out there before our flu season really gets under way. I’m looking at it very optimistically.” more…

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