Research Article

Failure to deliver hepatitis B vaccine: confessions from a genitourinary medicine clinic.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 13 July 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:97
  1. N Bhatti,
  2. R J Gilson,
  3. M Beecham,
  4. P Williams,
  5. M P Matthews,
  6. R S Tedder,
  7. I V Weller
  1. Department of Genitourinary Medicine, Middlesex Hospital, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To audit hepatitis B immunisation of homosexual or bisexual men in a genitourinary medicine clinic. DESIGN--Retrospective case note review of all homosexual and bisexual men presenting to a genitourinary clinic as new patients during 12 months in 1988 and follow up review of notes to May 1990. SETTING--One department of genitourinary medicine, Middlesex Hospital. PATIENTS--758 homosexual or bisexual men, of whom 207 started a course of hepatitis B vaccine in 1988. Case notes were unavailable for one patient. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The proportion of patients screened for hepatitis B virus markers, the proportion of susceptible patients immunised, the proportion completing the vaccine course, and the proportion rendered immune. RESULTS--25 men had been previously tested for hepatitis markers; of the 732 not previously tested, 440 (60.1%) were screened for hepatitis B markers. 207 (69%) of the 300 patients without hepatitis B serological markers started the vaccine course, and 141 (68%) completed it, with 75 (84%) of the 89 tested after immunisation being immune. An estimated 24% of susceptible new patients were rendered immune as a result of the immunisation policy. Patients who presented with a further episode of a sexually transmitted disease were more likely to have been screened (25% v 12%, p less than 0.0001) and immunised (31% v 18% p = 0.02); those known or found to be positive for HIV antibody were more likely to have been screened (23% v 14%, p = 0.047) but less likely to have been immunised (6% v 17%, p = 0.004). CONCLUSIONS--The major failure was that in not screening; failure to immunise patients found to be susceptible and failure of compliance with the vaccine course contributed. Non-response to the vaccine was of minor importance. Improvements in vaccine delivery are required. IMPLICATIONS--Other providers should be encouraged to review their performance.