Patients could sue over flu shot reactions, says lawyer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 January, 2010, 12:00am

People who suffer adverse reactions to swine flu vaccinations may sue for damages from both the government, which promotes the programme, and the drug maker, a lawyer says.

He made the comments following the case of a 58-year-old doctor who has suffered severe damage to his nervous system after having a swine flu shot. The Centre for Health Protection is now investigating the connection between the vaccination and his illness.

Lawyer Tang Tat-ming said when pursuing a medical claim it was important to prove the adverse effect was directly related to the treatment.

'If this is established, sufferers may seek civil claims from the related departments,' he said. 'If patients were well-informed, it is difficult to claim the full amount. But this does not mean that patients can't seek claims, although the claim amount may be smaller.'

Tang also said it was difficult to provide proof in medical cases as other factors may cause an illness.

Chan Kin-por, a legislator for the insurance sector, said not all insurance plans covered claims for complications related to vaccinations. But he said patients could still make claims for medical negligence.

'Negligence arises when patients are not well-informed about the side effects of shots or procedural errors,' he said. 'Patients should keep receipts of the vaccination.'