Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has apologised for its handling of two separate Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) cases.
A second man has come forward to share his PEP experience at the hospital after reading Southern Star’s – SSO’s Victorian publication – exclusive story last week about the hospital’s bungling of a St Albans man’s request for PEP treatment.
Dave, 28, (not his real name) said he was refused PEP at RMH because the doctor decided he had a one in a million chance of contracting HIV.
“I had the same experience,” Dave said. “After an exposure incident with [a man] who was HIV-positive I needed to access PEP. The junior doctor had no idea what PEP was.”
Dave said after referring to a hospital print-out the doctor told him he wouldn’t prescribe the drug course because he had a one in a million chance of contracting HIV.
“I said I can guarantee that’s not correct,” Dave said. “He said that’s what the guidelines say and, because of the effects of the medication, we’re not going to give it to you.”
RMH spokesman Rodney Jackson-Smith admitted the hospital had made an error and offered apologies to the two men.
“The two recent breaches of our PEP protocols are regrettable and the hospital apologises for them,” he said.
When Dave left RMH he phoned the Alfred Hospital’s 24-hour PEP line and was told to seek PEP treatment immediately.
“I was lucky enough to know there was a PEP info line, just to double check … he made me doubt myself because he was a doctor,” Dave said.
After seeking and getting treatment at the Prahran Market Clinic, a nurse from the RMH infectious diseases unit contacted Dave.
He said the nurse apologised and promised such an incident would not happen again.
Two weeks later he read Southern Star’s story about the similar experience of a St Albans man.
“[The nurse] said the doctor had obviously read the guidelines incorrectly,” Dave said.
“I said, ‘If you can guarantee me this will never happen again, or that the guidelines are updated or made clearer … I wouldn’t pursue it.’ ”
Jackson-Smith said staff would be given PEP training following the two PEP incidents.
“When this was first brought to the hospital’s attention we took immediate steps to prevent a recurrence by fully briefing our emergency department staff and reminding them of our PEP protocols and the correct procedures to be followed,” he said.
“The hospital will also be conducting follow-up education sessions with relevant staff.”
RMH and the Alfred are the only two Melbourne hospitals providing 24-hour PEP services.
info: The Alfred’s 24-hour PEP line is 1800 889 997. Sydney’s PEP info line is 1800 737 669.