#LegallySpeaking: Medicolegal tip
1) Separate consent must be taken for blood transfusion
2) The treating doctor should make sure himself that the blood is free from any kind of infection.
The patient while taking treatment for abdominal pain at was advised to undergo hysterectomy, in December 1990. She was transfused two units of blood in the postoperative period in that hospital which was allegedly procured from a Laboratory. In mid-1994 the patient developed recurrent loose motion, weight loss, respiratory infection and difficulty in swallowing, for which a blood test was done it showed that HIV antibodies were present. Therefore she was referred to Centre for AIDS Research and Education, wherein ELISA test was done in June 1994 which confirmed that complainant's wife was infected with HIV. She underwent medical treatment at AIDS Centre. In July 1995, complainant's wife developed left sided hemiparesis, oral candidiasis and pulmonary tuberculosis. She was hospitalized at hospital in Madras in July 1995. As she became unconscious, a CT Scan was done and where the disease was diagnosed as glioma of the brain, for which she was admitted in another hospital at Madras on 12.8.1995 where she died on 16.8.1995.
Case of the appellant:
Two units of blood was transfused to the patient which was brought from a clinical laboratory which did not conduct any test to satisfy itself that it was free from infection like HIV, etc.
The hospital authorities also did not cross check whether there is a certificate in this regard. The treating doctor should satisfy himself that the blood is free from infection which doctor did not do. In June 1994 when the patient suffered from multiple diseases for which she did not have immunity, blood was tested and found to be HIV+.
The clinic which supplied the blood had not tested the blood to ensure that the blood was free from the deadly HIV. Any blood bank/laboratory supplying blood is duty-bound to ensure that the blood supplied is free from HIV and other infections. The hospital also had failed to carry out the test required to ensure that the blood was not infected. There was thus a gross and patent negligence on the part of both the blood supplying clinic as well as doctor while transfusing the blood with the result that the complainant's wife was infected with HIV by the transfusion of HIV contaminated blood. The complainant's wife lost her life on account of this negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the doctor and bloos supplying laboratory
Findings of the court
....One of the modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS is through the transfusion of blood having the virus. The sole reason for the complainant's wife developing HIV/AIDS was the transfusion of the blood contaminated with the HIV virus done by the opposite parties after the operation in December 1990. The complainant's wife and the complainant have led clean lives and there was absolutely no other reason for her getting HIV infection which led to her death...
"The learned Counsel for the appellant submitted that blood transfusion was given without obtaining the consent of the patient."
Source: Court order (htps://indiankanoon.org/doc/1919829/)
Note: The objective of #LegallySpeaking initiative is to spread awareness about the medicolegal implications of commonly encountered scenarios in a clinician's daily practice