India: Woman lodges police complaint against medical staff of blood bank after contracting HIV during transfusion

November 23, 2019

Source: Stock Daily Dish, November 23, 2019

A 24-year-old pregnant woman contracted HIV allegedly after being transfused contaminated blood supplied by a blood bank which failed to conduct proper screening for the virus, prompting the Tamil Nadu government to order examination of stocks in the state‘s blood banks.

The services of three lab technicians of the blood bank attached to a government hospital at Sattur, near Virudhunagar, have been terminated,Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said Wednesday.

Terming the incident as ‘disheartening and shocking’, he said such a thing has never happened in the state so far.

The minister said a thorough probe into the incident was on and promised stringent action against those found guilty.

The woman and her husband lodged a police complaint on Wednesday seeking action against the doctors, nurses and employees of the blood bank.

Police said a first information report has been registered against doctors and nurses involved in the transfusion of blood besides blood bank workers for medical negligence under relevant Indian Penal Code sections but did not elaborate.

The state government said it was making all efforts to prevent the impact of the virus on the woman, and stocks in all blood banks would be reviewed to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

Joint Director of Health Services, Virudhunagar, R Manoharan told PTI the woman, who was eight months pregnant with her second child, had gone for a check-up at a private clinic in Sattur where doctors advised her to have a blood transfusion citing haemoglobin deficiency.

Subsequently, she underwent blood transfusion at the Sattur government hospital and the blood was brought from the blood bank.

It later emerged that the donor was HIV positive, the official said, adding the recipient‘s blood was also tested, which confirmed that she too had got infected by the virus.

Police said the 19-year-old donor, on coming to know about the incident, allegedly attempted to commit suicide by consuming poison. He has been admitted to a hospital.

They said he was employed at a local fireworks unit in Sivakasi. He had donated blood for a girl, his relative, who was seriously ill.

However, the blood-group did not match and it was kept in the blood bank. Subsequently, when he had gone for a health check at Madurai for an overseas job,he tested HIV positive, officials said.

He apprehended that he might be questioned by police for no fault of his and attempted suicide, they said.

Preliminary inquiry revealed that the blood bank staff had failed to screen the blood properly before supplying it to the private hospital.

The personnel who tested the donor‘s blood had labelled it ‘safe,‘ officials said.

A detailed medical treatment is also underway for the woman to ensure the virus does not affect her foetus, the minister said, adding, the government is also giving all livelihood assistance to the family.

Lakhs of people were provided with blood component annually including in the form of blood and ‘there have been no complaints (of such nature) so far and this is the first time which is shocking’, he told reporters in Chennai.

Talking to reporters, the woman‘s husband held the state government responsible for the incident and demanded that it provide the best treatment to her.

He said he does not want any job from the government but only the best treatment for his wife.

Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the district and spoke to the woman. If the woman wanted to get treated in a private hospital, she would be provided all help, he said.

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the district collector had expressed ‘regret‘ to the family through the revenue divisional officer.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin lashed out at the ruling
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam over the incident, saying it showed how state-run hospitals function under this ‘corrupt government’.