Kin allege complications following blood transfusion

Commotion erupted at the Government Medical College Hospital on Tuesday after the relatives of a patient who died post-surgery alleged that the death was the result of complications following transfusion of blood that belonged to an incompatible group into the patient.

Hospital superintendent D. Mohandas, however, said that while it was true that the blood component sourced for the patient from the Blood Bank belonged to an incompatible group, it was never transfused into the patient as the doctors had noticed that the inpatient identity number on the bag was not that of the patient. The patient, Sreekumar, 48, of Pappanamcode died of complications leading to multi-organ failure following coronary artery bypass graft surgery and not owing to any error in blood transfusion, he said.

The Director of Medical Education, on a directive from Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, has constituted a two-member committee comprising faculty members from the departments of Medicine and Pathology to conduct an internal inquiry into the incident.

The patient underwent the bypass surgery on November 20 and had been in the ICU since. The patient’s relatives claimed that on November 22, the blood that was sent from the Blood Bank on request belonged to a different Rh factor and this was transfused into the patient by accident.

The patient died on Tuesday morning around 11 a.m., following which it was alleged that he had died from the complications resulting from the wrong blood transfusion.

Doctors who were attending to the patient in the ICU have denied this.

“We had not been able to wean the patient off the ventilator because he developed acute respiratory distress syndrome in the lungs, leading to poor oxygen levels in the blood. His liver function began to fail, following which he went into multi-organ failure and died,” a doctor told The Hindu.

“It was not blood, but platelets that had been brought from the Blood Bank. The bag was sent back to the patient’s relative when it was found that the patient identity number was different on the bag. It is a misunderstanding that the patient was transfused with an incompatible blood type, and this had been explained to the relatives then itself,” he said.