The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unsafe blood transfusion slur on clinics

Siliguri, June 7: Blood banks in this north Bengal town have alleged that private nursing homes are administering “untested” blood drawn from patients’ relatives or friends, a practice that health authorities have discouraged.

“It is a must for all nursing homes that they take only tested and verified blood from licensed blood banks only and not use the blood of the patients’ kin without testing. This is because they are not fully equipped to carry out the mandatory tests needed before transfusing blood,” said Salil Dutta, chairman of the Rotary Blood Bank.

“In spite of having the services of blood banks at Siliguri, there are a number of nursing homes which do a normal blood grouping and cross matching before the blood thus collected is transfused to the patients. While the National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) clearly states that no nursing homes are permitted to draw blood, it is being drawn and administered to the patients with impunity,” Dutta added.

Dutta said manufacturers of blood bags have been clearly instructed by Naco that the sale of blood bags can be made only to licensed banks against orders placed. “Surprisingly, we are seeing that the bags are easily finding their way to the dealer’s shelf.”

Jiwan Kumar Pradhan, another member of the blood bank, echoed Dutta. “Nursing homes are simply ignoring the health department order that was circulated to them last year, asking them to stop the practice,” Pradhan said.

D.R. Nakipuria, joint secretary of the Siliguri Nursing Home Owners’ Association, countered the allegations. “Nursing homes draw blood from the patients’ kin only in cases of dire emergency. This is done with the full consent of the patient. In any case, in the absence of a well-equipped round-the-clock government blood bank in the town, the nursing homes are forced to do so. It is a question of the availability of fresh blood and also the life of a patient, who needs blood urgently,” Nakipuria said.

But Dutta does not agree. “Whatever the emergency, many modern medicines or fluids are available which can be used during emergencies so that a patient gets some time before he is administered blood. Instead of using untested blood, they should try and get pure and verified blood from registered blood banks, a facility that exists in Siliguri,” he said.

The chief medical officer of health, T.. Chattoraj, said the department is looking into the matter, though no specific complaints have been lodged yet.

“We had circulated an order last year to all nursing homes and hospitals asking them to use blood from licensed blood banks only and not draw blood on their own, though in some emergency cases it is allowed. We are looking into the matter and are trying to identify the nursing homes that are indulging in this practice. We will take necessary action against them,” Chattoraj said.

Apart from two government-run blood banks — the regional blood bank at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and another at Siliguri Hospital — the town has two private blood banks, one run by the Rotary Club and another by the North Bengal Voluntary Blood Bank.

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