Chinese Court Orders Hospital to Compensate Family of Woman Who Died After Receiving HIV-Infected Blood
The Wuxian People's Court in Jiangsu Province, China, in a record verdict yesterday ordered a Nanzhang County hospital to pay $1.2 million to the family of a woman who died after being infected with HIV through a blood transfusion, China Daily reports. The woman's husband Shen Jieyong and his three-year-old daughter Shen Chang, who have both also tested positive for HIV, were awarded $24,700 and will receive an annual sum of $10,856 from the hospital. The court did not specify how many years the payments would continue, but did say that the payments would cease if an HIV cure was found. Shen's wife Chen Xiumei tested positive for HIV in July 2000 after becoming ill earlier that year. She received a blood transfusion in January 1998 for anemia at a Wuxian hospital and another during labor the following month at the Nanzhang County hospital. After being diagnosed, Chen and Shen sued both hospitals and the blood collection agencies that supplied the transfused blood for $1.57 million in medical costs and compensation. The blood supplies at the Wuxian hospital and at two blood collection centers were found to be safe, but the blood at the Nanzhang County hospital had been collected without a state license and had not been screened for HIV, leaving the court to conclude that "beyond a reasonable doubt" the Nanzhang hospital was responsible for Chen's infection (Hu, China Daily, 9/11). Hospital officials would not comment on the verdict, saying only that their business "is being seriously affected." Shen's lawyer is concerned that the hospital will not be able to pay the amount of the judgement. Court officials also declined to comment, saying the verdict had not been officially announced (Reuters, 9/11). The Chinese government has recently admitted that "thousands" of citizens could have been infected with HIV through unsanitary blood collection practices. Blood dealers often pooled blood from several donors and returned the mixed blood to donors after removing the plasma. Independent observers estimate that as many as one million Chinese in Henan province alone could have become infected through such blood collection practices (Sui, Agence France-Presse, 9/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.