S. Humphries, MD
January 22, 2010
H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccines are now being given to sick hospital patients with or without their doctor’s consent. This is being done despite there being no data on the safety of doing so.
I am a licensed, board-certified nephrologist, otherwise known as a kidney specialist, working in a large, city-based hospital. Because I rarely admit patients to the hospital other than for specific procedures, such as a kidney biopsy, I only recently became aware of my hospital’s policy regarding flu shots for sick people. Waking up to this new rule made me realize that Big Pharma is getting closer and closer to bypassing doctors completely to deliver direct patient “care”.
We have an elaborate electronic charting system at our hospital. All of the medications and procedure orders are placed into the patient’s record by doctors and nurses so that every person has access to all that is happening with the patient. A few weeks ago, I arrived to see my first patient of the day, a patient with a kidney ailment that leaks protein and usually progresses to complete kidney shutdown. When I opened her electronic chart, I expected my section to be empty. Instead, I saw an order for an influenza vaccine with my name on it. Even more shocking was that the order was highlighted bright blue, meaning, the shot had already been given. I thought perhaps I had opened the wrong chart or some sort of mistake had been made. But it was the right file; her name in the upper left hand corner. And my electronic signature was on the page after the order. My patient, with kidney failure and an autoimmune disorder had been given a flu shot without my consent.