A month after 15 maternity deaths were reported in Tamil Nadu, allegedly due to lysed blood, the state health department has told TNM that no action will be taken against the doctors and paramedics involved in the transfusion process. This was decided after a three-member committee probed the allegations and found no evidence of the blood given to patients being spoilt or lysed.
The committee, led by deputy director of medical services Dr VP Harisundari, inspected government blood banks in Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Hosur, where maternal deaths were reported over the last six months. It was suspected that the blood administered to the expecting mothers was lysed and Health Secretary Beela Rajesh had directed the Health department to initiate disciplinary action and file a criminal complaint against three doctors and multiple other blood bank officials and staff involved in the transfusions.
“The inquiry conducted, however, revealed that all the blood banks were functioning as per norms. No problems were found in the testing process or the storage mechanism. There was no evidence of lysed blood being used by the doctors,” says the director of medical education, Dr A Edwin Joe. “These are all maternal death cases and it can be due to many reasons. In immediate diagnosis also the reason quoted was not blood transfusion. Blood transfusion reaction is usually immediate and doctors know how to handle it. In these cases, blood was being given as a lifesaving procedure,” he adds.
This finding comes after a preliminary inquiry by the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society project director Dr K Senthil Raj found that blood wasn’t stored at the appropriate temperature and safety protocols weren’t adhered to.
“These are all allegations. But to take action against staff we need substantial evidence. We can’t take action on hard-working people who are saving a lot of lives. We can’t demoralise them,” says Dr Edwin.
Moreover, this inquiry also put a number on the suspected deaths due to lysed blood. While media reports quoted different figures, Health department officials had told TNM that the number ranged between 3-7. However, now Dr Edwin confirmed that a total of 15 cases were reviewed as reported by ToI.
“The cases of all 15 patients have been reviewed and a conclusion arrived at,” says Dr Edwin, adding, “They did not die as a result of the blood transfusion they received.”