Bindu Shajan Perappadan

The Institute conducted an enquiry following allegations of medical negligence

NEW DELHI: Following allegations by relatives of a 17-year-old girl that she tested HIV-positive after being administrated contaminated blood at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here and later died of medical complications associated with pneumonia, the Institute on Wednesday ordered an enquiry into the matter.

On the basis of available medical records, the Institute clarified: "The patient had tested HIV-positive when she was first admitted to the Institute on November 2, 2006, and any claims of her having tested HIV-positive due to medical negligence at the Institute is false."

This is contrary to claims made by the girl's relatives who maintained that she was HIV-negative when she was admitted to the Institute last November 2. According to them, she had tested positive only after being administered contaminated blood at the Institute.

"She was admitted with dengue and needed blood transfusion. We believe that contaminated blood was administered to the girl," alleged Bibek Pattanaik, a social worker associated with the case.

AIIMS Medical Superintendent and spokesperson Shakti Kumar Gupta said: "The patient was first admitted to AIIMS on November 2 through the hospital Casualty. At that time, she had loose motions, pain in the abdomen, blood in stools and vomiting. She had a history of having received tuberculosis treatment in 2005-06. She was provisionally diagnosed to be suffering from inflammatory bowel problem -- Crohn's disease -- and was hospitalised. She was evaluated and treated for the same. During the course of investigations, since she was suffering from Crohn's disease that is associated with immune system dysfunction, her blood was tested for HIV on November 4 and she was found to be HIV-positive. As per established protocol, the patient's attendant was advised to collect the report and send the patient for counselling."

According to Dr. Gupta, the patient was also found to have dengue fever and her low platelet count required platelet transfusion. Her treatment continued and she was discharged from the Institute on November 18, he added.

Giving details of her recent treatment, he said: "The patient was again admitted on March 11 from the hospital Casualty. She had presented symptoms of respiratory distress and was admitted under the Department of Medicine and was treated for her ailment. Two days later she was shifted to the ICU and she died on March 26. The cause of death was identified as acute respiratory distress syndrome with sepsis along with refractory shock and bilateral severe pneumonia with HIV-positive."

Stating that the patient was HIV-positive at the time of her initial hospitalisation in November even before platelet transfusion were given to her an Institute, Dr. Gupta said: "At the hospital's blood bank, all blood and blood products are being tested for all infectious markers as per guidelines of the National Blood Transfusion Council including HIV for which P-24 antigen testing is done. It is a very sensitive test and therefore it is not practically possible for anyone to get HIV infection through transfusion of blood or platelet from the Institute."