(With apologies to Shakespeare)
In a society where obtaining appropriate and timely healthcare can often require the intervention of a minor deity, a junior minister, or merely wads and wads of cash, it is less than comforting to discover that one component of our beleaguered health system is giving patients the benefit of its ministrations whether they need it or not.
According to a report published this week by the National Haemovigilance Office (yes, there is such a thing, I googled it, so I did) it would seem that Irish medics have been behaving like the sanguinary equivalents of Mrs Doyle and lashing out the claret like it was going out of fashion (Go on now, ye'll take a pint of A rhesus positive, you will, you will, you will).
In 2005 40 unnecessary transfusions were given to patients in Irish hospitals and adverse reactions to transfusions were up by almost a quarter. The transfusion of incorrect blood components accounted for 65 per cent of all the adverse incidents reported in 2005.
The errors resulted from blood test results being read wrongly or "misinterpreted". There were also "failures in communication between the transfusion centre and the hospital laboratory, between the transfusion laboratory staff and on-call laboratory staff, or between the ward and the laboratory", which led to the issuing to patients of wrong blood components.
How do these fuckers get their jobs? (Well we all know the answer to that one. It involves cousins, in-laws and/or nephews and nieces once removed)
One instance speaks volumes for the quality of doctor patient interaction in Irish hospitals. A patient was transfused in error after a phlebotomist took a blood sample from the wrong patient. "The correct patient identification procedure was not performed, as the patient was not asked to identify himself, nor was the ID wristband checked,". The error resulted in 300mls of red cells being given to the wrong patient, but with no adverse consequences, as both patients had the same blood type. Well that's a fucking relief, then. Another incompetent phlebotomist gets to keep his/her job.
In another incident the wrong component was given when the hospital ran out of the correct type. I can just imagine that conversation:
- Sorry but we're all out of O positive
- Not a bother, just give us a pint of B minus. Sure, they'll never know the difference once it's flowing.
- One pint of B Minus coming up!
A barman who attempted the same trick and sneakily substituted Beamish for Guinness would be run out of town on a rail.
In a summary unlikely to prevent half the nation from becoming Jehovah's Witnesses, Dr Emer Lawlor, director of the NHO, said that the increase was likely to be the result of increased reporting rather than a real increase in adverse events.
Well that comforts me no end, Emer, now excuse me while I pop my leukocytes on to defrost.
A note for prospective commenters: In writing this post I bent over backwards to avoid shameful puns based on the topic. I expect any comments to be maintained in the same vein. Thank you