A Queensland man who was given an incorrect dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine has had life-saving heart surgery delayed for several days, as the CEO of Healthcare Australia is stood aside in relation to the incident.
The ABC has been told the 88-year-old man, who had been scheduled for an operation days after receiving the vaccine at a northside Brisbane aged-care home, will now have the surgery next week.
It is understood the surgery was delayed as a precaution and the man, who is under observation at St Andrew’s Hospital, has shown no side effects.
A 94-year-old woman, who was also administered the incorrect dose, will return home on Thursday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
The medical mishap has been blamed on a doctor who did not complete the mandatory online vaccine training prior to his first engagement under the Commonwealth rollout with private contractor Healthcare Australia.
The incident occurred at the Holy Spirit Nursing Home, also known as St Vincent’s Care Services, in Brisbane’s north on Tuesday.
Healthcare Australia put on notice
Mr Hunt said the company responsible for the training, Healthcare Australia, had been put on notice for potential termination and its CEO, Jason Cartwright, has stood aside.
“The company has had the book thrown at it by Professor Brendan Murphy, as secretary – not something he does very often,” Mr Hunt said.
“They have been put on notice of potential termination for any significant further breaches.
“Secondly, they have brought in their chair to act in an executive administration role.
“Thirdly, they’ve brought in additional senior management. Fourth, at the Commonwealth’s request, the Commonwealth has installed the clinical leadership of the former chief nursing and midwifery officer of Australia, Deb Thoms.”
Mr Hunt said after discussions with the department, the CEO was being stood aside and the company was installing new management.
He said as a result of the incident there were some delays in the vaccine rollout.
“Healthcare Australia has slowed down their rollout in response to a demand from the department that they provide an absolute guarantee of clinical certainty and quality. They were reviewing their practices this morning,” he said.
In a statement, Healthcare Australia chairman Daren McKennay apologised for the incident.
“We apologise unreservedly to the patients and their families involved for the distress this has caused and assure the community that the error was isolated and will not be repeated,” he said.
“While the review is being finalised, Healthcare Australia CEO Jason Cartwright has agreed to step aside from his role and an interim CEO with extensive experience in the health sector will be imminently appointed.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she wanted the public to have confidence in the vaccine delivery.
“We welcome the Commonwealth’s commitment to sharing the findings of its investigation with Queensland, and what actions will be taken to ensure this doesn’t occur again.”
In a statement, the Department of Health said it had sought urgent independent evidence that all other immunisers had completed the required training.
The doctor who administered the incorrect doses has been stood down from the vaccine program and the incident is under investigation.
The department said the doctor would be referred to the appropriate regulatory authority.
Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union secretary Beth Mohle described the incident as very concerning and said it required a full investigation.
“It really takes courage to speak out and raise concerns – this is the vital role that nurses perform every day,” Ms Mohle said.
“It’s fantastic that that nurse did that very, very promptly, is our understanding.”