Updated: March 12, 2015 2:28:32 am
Half of those who donated blood at a Delhi government hospital and tested positive for infectious diseases in mandatory tests conducted at the blood bank, did not respond to communications by the hospital staff to intimate them of the test result.
According to a study by the Department of Transfusion at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital on blood donations over a one-year period in 2012, 464 donors tested positive for infectious diseases and 235 of them could not be contacted.
The study was recently published in the Asian Journal of Transfusion Medicine, an international peer reviewed medical journal.
As per existing government guidelines under the National Blood Transfusion Council, all blood banks and transfusion facilities screen donated blood for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, malaria and syphilis.
Dr Veena Doda, head of the transfusion department and in-charge of the blood bank, said, “Blood banks like ours are mandated to inform donors of the results after we run screening tests for infectious diseases. However, we run into problems because there is no proper registry or co-ordination of donors in our system. Sometimes the contact numbers given are wrong or people change numbers and addresses.”
The study also found that details given in the form, including the address, were inadequate. So, most blood donors did not respond even when their results were sent by post.
“We should be using new ID systems like the Aadhar card to contact blood donors,” Dr Doda said.
The hospital could only contact 229 donors on the phone, among whom 98.2 per cent or 225 donors responded.
Majority of the donors who did not respond had Hepatitis B, 10 had co-infections (tested positive for more than one infectious disease including HIV).
The study also found that a majority of the blood donors, who the hospital managed to contact, responded and acted on their test results by seeking medical help.
“A large majority (94.75 per cent) of the notified donors contacted their healthcare provider when given clear instructions to do so. These results are encouraging because they indicate that a major element of the message is acted upon when it is worded clearly,” the study noted.
As per government guidelines, till 2014, blood banks had to discard donated blood which tested positive for infectious diseases like HIV, without informing donors in the interest of confidentiality and privacy.
“Now, at the time of donation, we obtain written consent on whether they want to be informed about test results and then refer donors who test positive to higher centres for further testing,” Dr Doda said.
Donors who test positive for HIV are referred to Integrated Testing and Counselling Centres and those who test positive for Hepatitis B or C are informed and referred to a gastroenterologist.
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