After receiving complaints from various relatives of patients, who were asked to replace blood by arranging donors, the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA), last week, issued circulars to all public and private hospitals in the city, requesting them to refrain from putting compulsion on patients to arrange donors or replace blood provided by the hospitals.
Among the volley of complaints received by the FDA, the most recent came on May 11 against South Mumbai-based Saifee hospital on behalf of Tahera Saifuddin Abedin, who required blood for low haemoglobin count. According to the complaint, Abedin was administered four units of packed cells (red blood cells) on May 10, and was later told to replace the same by four units of whole blood.
Zahid Khambatti, who filed the complaint on behalf of Abedin, said, “The hospital administered only packed cells, but asked her family to find four donors for whole blood units. The whole blood yields other components like plasma, random donor platelets and cryoprecipitate. The family was troubled for some time before the hospital finally agreed against a replacement.”
Following the complaint, an FDA inspector was sent to the hospital to inquire. Ainy Chooniya from the Saifee hospital’s blood bank told Mumbai Newsline, “There was shortage of blood in the bank. We later arranged it on our own and administered her platelets and packed cells. We have never forced any patient to arrange for blood, even when we ran out of stock.”
According to FDA sources, another complaint was received against Bandra-based Lilavati hospital for similar reasons on May 10. “We have also received complaints against JJ hospital and Seven Hills hospital in the past two months,” a senior FDA official said.
JJ hospital’s dean Dr T P Lahane said, “There is no issue of non-availability of blood, and patients are never asked to arrange for donors.”
The frequent complaints have raised state health ministry’s concerns over patients’ woes to arrange blood. State health minister Suresh Shetty said, “Under the National Blood Policy, hospitals should ideally make provisions to arrange blood supply when required. But, there have been complaints from patients against hospitals in this respect. Blood-on-call scheme has been implemented by the state to ensure easy supply in case of an emergency.”
While hospitals are being blamed by patients, a senior FDA official said hospitals also needed to maintain stock in their blood banks and therefore asking patients to provide replacement at a later stage was not legally wrong. “Under the National Blood Policy, professional donation has been banned, and replacement donation is slowly getting phased out. Even hospitals need donors for blood supply,” the official said.
In 2013-2014, of the 303 inspections conducted by FDA across the state, eight blood banks were found flouting norms under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940. “We suspended licenses of seven banks and cancelled the license of one blood bank in Buldhana,” a FDA officer said.