The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Save blood message for doctors to fight drain

Calcutta, Dec. 30: In a bid to minimise wastage, the government would ask hospitals and nursing homes in the state to be judicious while asking patient parties to get blood pouches.

Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee today said surgeons often ask patient parties to be ready with more than the required blood before a major operation. “The doctors ask for two or three pouches when the patient needs only one or some times none at all. According to the existing rules, the blood issued from a bank cannot be taken back. So, the unused pouches have to be destroyed,” he said.

The health department will ask surgeons attached to hospitals and nursing homes to send for only the minimum blood required for immediate use. Circulars in this regard would be sent to the clinics soon.

“The patient may book two or three pouches at the blood bank and take only one unit out. The bank will keep the other pouches ready and hand them over only if required. This way, the pouches can be saved from being wasted,” said Chatterjee.

The unused pouches, each containing 300 ml of blood, are now destroyed after the patient is discharged.

There are 59 government-controlled and 31 private blood banks in the state.

“What we want is rational and judicious use of blood by doctors. If we can make the doctors aware about our objective, there will be no shortage of blood,” said the health services chief, who recently went on an inspection around hospitals in the districts and the sub-divisions, including those at Barasat, Asansol, Burdwan, Kalna, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Siliguri and Malda.

Health department sources said the hospitals and nursing homes in Bengal require about 4 lakh pouches of blood every year and there is a deficit of about 70,000 units.

The blood banks in the district hospitals collect, on an average, about 9,000 units of blood from donors every year. But, the collection varies hospital to hospital. The Malda Sadar Hospital, for instance, collects about 7,800 pouches annually but the the banks attached to the medical colleges collect about 14,000 pouches.

The health services director said it is not possible for the department alone to launch a campaign to make medical practitioners and surgeons aware about judicious use of blood. “We will rope in organisations like the Indian Medical Association to help us build up a campaign,” he said.

The state branch of the IMA welcomed the move and agreed to pitch in in the campaign for rational use of blood. “This is a step towards bringing down the existing deficit of blood in the state,” said K.K. Banik, convener of the service doctors’ wing of the IMA.

A surgeon himself, Banik said the doctors are apprehensive before an operation and so ask the patient parties to keep the blood ready. “We feel safe, if the blood is ready, we feel secure in case there is some complication, which needs immediate transfusion,” added Banik.

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