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Times of India
22 November 2011

50–yr–old lodges complaint at Sion hospital against doctors who were treating his wife for cancer

Perhaps in a bid to gain closure following his wife's death, a BMC teacher went through her case papers and realised, to his shock, that on the day before her death, his wife had been administered blood that didn't match with her group.

The human body reacts strongly if it is administered blood of a different group, says Dr Jayashree Sharma, head of department of blood transfusion at KEM. "Renal failure and respiratory problems are some of common signs. It can be fatal."

Asha Singh, 46, who used to teach at a private school, had been diagnosed with having a cancerous lump in her gall bladder last year. Since then she underwent chemotherapy at Sion hospital six times. During the treatment doctors realised that her haemoglobin levels were low. She regularly underwent blood transfusion to rectify this. The last one was on October 8. She died in less than 24 hours.

Her husband says that records show that on October 8 the hospital gave Asha her two units of A+ve blood. Her blood group was B+ve.

Harendra, her husband, said, "In October she had developed minor complications and I sought an appointment with her doctor. We were told to bring her in for examination. Two days later I lost my wife. I couldn't believe what had happened as, until then, her condition had been improving."

"Her body was not taking in the blood like other times. I even brought this to the notice of the doctors and nurses in the ward. But they kept saying it was only a minor glitch and nothing to worry about," he added.

The next morning, Harendra said, Asha's condition deteriorated and she started passing blood through her stool. Over the next few hours she became critical and early on October 10 she breathed her last.

"Back then my sons and I were very shocked. We asked the doctors reasons for her death but never got any answers. It is only now that we have come to terms with her death that we went through her medical papers. We were shocked to see that she was given wrong blood type," he said.

Harendra said that through her year–long treatment at the hospital Asha's medical papers show that she was given B+ve blood. This includes her five–day stay at the hospital in July this year, when she was admitted following some complications.

The 50–year–old says his wife had been responding well to the treatment and was working through the treatment. In fact, in October she was supposed to go through one of last scheduled rounds of chemotherapy. Till the day she was admitted she had been working. Since her haeomoglobin count was low even then, doctors decided that she needed another round of transfusion.

A senior doctor at Sion hospital, which treats 10,000 patients every month, said such incidents are not uncommon.

"There are several people at various levels handling blood units. From the person who draws the blood, to the one who takes it for matching, to the person who labels them there are way too many people involved. Ideally, we should maintain history of every patient so that such incidents never recur," he added.

The hospital's dean Dr Sandhya Kamat said she couldn't comment until she went through all the details of the case.

Harendra has now filed a complaint with the hospital authorities. The family has also sought all the documents pertaining to Asha's treatment. "Most of her documents are still with the hospital. Thankfully we had kept some of the papers which revealed that she was given wrong blood type," he said.

Harendra Singh says his wife Asha had been undergoing treatment at Sion for the last one year and was always given B+ve blood (top, right). It was only on October 8 that she was given units of A+ve blood

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