Red Cross, FDA Need to Restore Trust in Blood Supply Among Patients, Doctors
The FDA's announcement last month that American Red Cross blood processing has repeatedly failed inspections in the past 15 years and not followed procedures to verify serostatus of units initially testing positive for HIV has generated physician concern, Dr. Scott Gottlieb of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York writes in a USA Today commentary. As donors are contacted and asked to return for testing when HIV is found in their blood, blood donation has become "a poor man's screening tool" in the inner city, Gottlieb says, increasing questions of the safety of the nation's blood supply. Yet the American Red Cross president calls the blood supplied by her group to be "the safest in the world." Gottlieb writes, "I always wondered why patients who readily submit to high-risk surgeries, where the chance of mortality can be easily calculated, nonetheless balk at the prospect of blood transfusions. ... I tell some high-risk patients that the surgery can carry a risk of mortality as high as 5%. Yet it's the chance of contracting HIV from required blood transfusions that often scares them more, even though those odds are less than one in 500,000." He adds, however, that given the recent headlines and regulatory concerns, he adds, "Can you blame them? Our blood supply often has been subject to dissembling by those in whom we entrust its safety.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.