Woman given wrong blood still critical

PHOTO: Woman given wrong blood still critical

HONG KONG - A 64-year-old woman, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after being given a transfusion of the wrong blood type, remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Kwong Wah Hospital.

Leung Pak-yin, chief executive of the Hospital Authority, issued an apology to the patient and her family during a radio interview on Friday.

The authority has set up an investigating team to see if there was any impropriety in the blood matching process.

The technician involved has been transferred to a different position following the incident. The primary investigation found that the error might have emerged from the laboratory. It was suspected that there might have been a mix-up of blood from two patients with different blood types.

Au Kit-sing, head of human resources at the Hospital Authority, said the incident was not related to inadequate manpower at the laboratory, as the laboratory had increased manpower in recent years.

Such mistakes are rare and arose from a special situation, which requires further investigation, Au said.

No misconduct was found in the taking of blood for the transfusion, he said.

The woman was admitted to Caritas Medical Centre on Aug 9 to be treated for scoliosis and lumbar spinal stenosis. The patient underwent lumbar fusion surgery on Aug 15. Later, she was found in an unstable condition and transferred to the center's intense care unit, with a machine to assist her with breathing.

A transfusion of two bags of blood was ordered at midnight that day. The next day she was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage.

The patient then was transferred to Kwong Wah Hospital, where she was found to have been transfused with type A blood, while her blood was type B.

"Giving the wrong type of blood is a serious malpractice, which the Hospital Authority had promised that it would not happen again," said Leung.

Chow Yat-ngok, secretary for food and health, expressed his "regret" about the incident. He said the Hospital Authority had reviewed its blood transfusion system.