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Medical malpractice liability for vaccination: when, if ever?, P.2

In our previous post, we began discussing the topic of medical negligence in the context of vaccination.

As we noted, correct administration of a vaccine would ordinarily not be considered medical malpractice, but vaccines are not always administered according to the manufacturer's specifications. It is possible, in the administration of vaccines, to use the wrong vaccine, or to administer an incorrect dosage. Such actions could potentially serve as the basis for a claim of medical malpractice liability, though the extent of injury and other factors may or may not dictate whether to pursue the case in court. There is also the possibility that a physician could be held liable for administering a vaccine to a patient with a compromised immune system. Generally these cases are relatively rare.

In cases where a physician is an active part of the exemption request, such as with medical exemptions, it is conceivable that a physician could be found to have acted negligently by recommending an exemption. The answer depends on the facts of the case. Under New York law, a medical exemption must be signed by a physician licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York, and the principal or other individual in charge of the school may require additional information supporting the exemption. This standard does leave room for error in such recommendations.

A related issue is the use of alternate vaccination schedules. Some doctors, such as the one mentioned in our previous post, recommend alternative vaccination schedules for certain vaccines as a way for parents to be more comfortable with vaccinating. Depending on the exact vaccination schedule delay could cause infants to be at greater risk of contracting preventable diseases. Could this lead to a physician's liability? It is possible, but the number of people doing this is relatively small and the adverse consequences from using alternative vaccination schedules, for the time being, may be relatively insignificant. Time will tell whether the practice becomes more widespread and has a significant detrimental effect on patients.

Whenever a patient is significantly harmed as a result of the negligent actions of a health care provider, whether in the context of vaccination or any other medical care, it is import to work with an experienced attorney to have the case evaluated and to determine the options. An experienced advocate can provide the guidance and advocacy necessary to ensure a patient's rights are protected.

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