[EDITORIALS]Stricter blood standardsWe cannot delay overhauling the blood management system that revealed total failure. In the past 10 years, some 1,025 cases of blood donated by people who showed positive reaction to AIDS and hepatitis tests have been supplied to hospitals by the mistakes of the Red Cross. Indirect murder, in which blood recipients die without knowing the cause, shouldn’t be left to repeat.
The Red Cross, which supplies more than 98 percent of blood in Korea, has very low blood management expertise. Among 16 directors of blood banks, only one is a medical doctor.
Among working-level staff, there are 20 medical doctors, but that is no match for Japan’s 1,500. Moreover, the doctors have no power and responsibility in the organization. As the staff of the blood banks are shuffled with the staffs of Red Cross relief organizations, the professional expertise of the blood bank can’t be maintained. As a result, man-made disasters of killing healthy people by misreading examination results, or making mistakes in records, keep taking place. Blood donation and blood infusion are important medial acts on which people’s lives depend. Blood banks must be restructured completely giving leading roles to medical staff, and then, power and responsibility must be given to doctors and the shuffling of the staff with those of other organizations should be changed.
The government has failed to supervise the Red Cross, after entrusting the unqualified organization with the duty to manage blood. Its negligence should be corrected. The Health Ministry belatedly established the Blood Policy Department, but that is not enough. Establish a monitoring system outside the government and watch carefully as blood is supplied. In the United States, two medical associations and the FDA supervise the procedure.
To secure good quality blood, we have to change our way of thinking. We cannot keep accepting donations from students and soldiers in groups and rely on appealing to people on the street. In other countries, to induce regular blood donation from housewives and office workers who have low chances of contamination, blood banks manage them with care, sending donor cards and using other techniques. There is a limit to medical science, and however accurate examinations may be, it cannot detect all contaminated blood. We must secure good blood and improve our blood management to the level of advanced countries.