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9 October 2018
Public Health England's guidance for malaria prevention advises that the malaria situation has improved significantly in certain regions.
Nevertheless, patients travelling to malaria hotspots - such as parts of Africa, Asia, the Far East and South East Asia - should be encouraged to seek early medical advice about appropriate preventative measures, including prophylactic medication.
Fortunately, most doctors will rarely see a case of suspected malaria; this is reflected in the small number of cases referring to the disease being reported to the MDU.
Where claims arising from malaria cases do occur, they most commonly involve:
A man in his 30s consults his GP, complaining of fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. He explains that he has recently returned from a trip to Malawi and that he has taken malaria prophylaxis. In light of this information, the GP attributes the symptoms to viral gastroenteritis.
Several days later, the man collapses in the street and, on admission to hospital, is diagnosed with cerebral malaria. He later dies. It transpires that he had not completed his course of anti-malarial medication, discarding it when he returned home.
His family makes a claim against the GP for the delay in diagnosis. The expert appointed by the MDU is unsupportive of the GP, identifying inadequate history-taking and a failure to consider malaria in the differential diagnosis.
It is also established that, but for the delay in diagnosis, the patient would have survived with no adverse consequences. The claim is settled for a substantial sum, in reflection of the fact that the patient was a successful businessman supporting a young family.
Consider the following risk management advice when advising patients.
This guidance was correct at publication 09/10/2018. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.
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