Issues of human rabies immunoglobulin and vaccine: policy versus practice

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A retrospective audit was conducted of all issues of rabies vaccine or human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) from the Clinical Microbiology Department at University Hospital Aintree for post-exposure prophylaxis. The appropriateness of management was reviewed by a blinded panel, which used guidelines issued by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) as a standard. Thirty-six enquiries, on average 9 days following exposure, led to issues of HRIG, rabies vaccine or both. Dog bites accounted for the majority of incidents. In no cases was the biting animal recorded as having been observed for signs of rabies. Management was judged to have been inappropriate in 9 cases, and documentation was judged to have been unsatisfactory in 13 cases. This study has highlighted several areas of ambiguity in the current guidelines, and a number of deficiencies in the information prompted by the standardized proformas used to deal with post-exposure queries.

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