Fears of flu hotline misdiagnosis and potential clinical negligence claims
According to a survey of 251 UK GPs, 90 percent believe that the swine flu hotline carries a risk of misdiagnosis, as serious conditions may be missed by lay staff using an algorithm.
One response to the survey undertaken by GP magazine read, "I have already seen two patients with severe tonsillitis, and one with a knee infection, given Tamiflu over the phone from the hotline."
The director of Flu Resilience for the NHS in England, Ian Dalton, reassured the magazine that the clinical algorithm had been carefully designed to recognise patients with serious conditions, such as meningitis, and point them at a medical professional who could exercise clinical judgment.
Although no reports have yet been made of clinical negligence claims for swine flu misdiagnoses, the Times this week reported on an incident where a 13-year-old boy's serious kidney infection was missed by a telephone diagnosis from Frendoc, an independent GP service in the South-West of the UK.