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Private hospitals spell out 'blood money' costs

"It is a blatant lie to say that we get blood free of charge from the National Blood Transfusion Service at Narahenpita and charge exorbitantly from patients", Prof. Lal Chandrasena of the Nawaloka Hospital reacted when the Sunday Observer contacted him to get more clarifications on last Sunday's front page news item "Private hospitals extract blood money from patients".

 

Prof. Chandrasena, Head of Laboratories at the Nawaloka Hospital said there are 23 components of blood ranging from Rs 1500 upwards per unit, the costliest being Platelets (apheresis) that costs Rs 20,000 per unit.

If any patient, a kith or kin, who foots the bill feels the hospital concerned has charged exorbitantly he/she could complain to the Private Health Sector Regulatory Council that functions under the Ministry of Health, Prof. Chandrasena said.

Aruna Jayakody, Marketing Manager Lanka Hospitals said in the first instance blood obtained from the Narahenpita Blood Bank has to be prepared before infusing it to patients and involves processing in laboratories which costs money." It is wrong to say that we obtain blood at Rs 1000 and charge patients Rs 20,000 to 30,000. Even after processing it wouldn't cost so much. I just cannot understand why these charges are levelled against private hospitals" he said.

Dr. Manjula Karunaratne, Chief Operating Officer of the Asiri Group of Hospitals while refuting the charges that private hospitals fleece patients, especially in blood transfusions, promised to send a clarification when contacted by the Sunday Observer just before noon on Thursday. He did fax a clarification within twenty minutes through the Private Hospitals' Association which stated that the wrong information published in the media could be clarified.

The clarification stated the rates per unit supplied to private hospitals by the National Blood Transfusion Service. Accordingly, one pint of red cells/cross matched is bought at Rs 1500, one pint frozen plasma at Rs 1000, HLA typing (class II) Rs 7500, cryoprecipitate Rs 3000 and platelets (apheresis) Rs 20,000.

Private Hospitals submit a written request with a sample of the blood to the Blood Bank and after processing the request the Bank specifies a time for collection after which the hospital dispatches an ambulance, sometimes several kilometres away to collect the blood, under stipulated conditions.

The whole process entails documentation, administrative, transport and other overhead costs to the hospital. Hence, a unit of blood obtained at Rs 1500 will be charged to the patient with these reasonable overhead costs but will not add up to Rs 5,000/- Rs 10,000/- Rs 20,000/- or Rs 30,000/-

The clarification said private hospitals provide a quality healthcare service to the public at a reasonable and affordable cost, while maintaining the viability of the enterprise.

The Private Hospitals' Association said any public complaints or related issues should be directed to the Secretary of the Private Health Sector Regulatory Council under the purview of the Ministry of Health or to the respective Provincial Directors of Health Services.


What is a blood transfusion?

A blood transfusion is a safe, common procedure in which you receive blood through an intravenous (IV) line inserted into one of your blood vessels.

Blood transfusions are used to replace blood lost during surgery or a serious injury. A transfusion also might be done if your body can't make blood properly because of an illness.

During a blood transfusion, a small needle is used to insert an IV line into one of your blood vessels. Through this line, you receive healthy blood. The procedure usually takes 1 to 4 hours, depending on how much blood you need.

Blood transfusions are very common. Most blood transfusions go well. Mild complications could occur. Very rarely, serious problems develop.

Important information about blood

The heart pumps blood through a network of arteries and veins in the body. Blood has many vital jobs, for example, it carries oxygen and other nutrients to your body's organs and tissues.

Blood is made up of various parts, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets (PLATE-lets), and plasma. Blood is transfused either as whole blood (with all its parts) or, more often, as individual parts.

Blood types

Every person has one of the following blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, every person's blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. If you have type A blood, it's either A positive or A negative.

The blood used in a transfusion must work with your blood type. If it doesn't, antibodies (proteins) in your blood attack the new blood and make you sick.

Type O blood is safe for almost everyone. People who have this blood type are called universal donors. Type O blood is used for emergencies when there's no time to test a person's blood type.

People who have type AB blood are called universal recipients. This means they can get any type of blood.

If you have Rh-positive blood, you can get Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood. But if you have Rh-negative blood, you should only get Rh-negative blood. Rh-negative blood is used for emergencies when there's no time to test a person's Rh type.

Blood banks

Blood banks collect, test, and store blood. They carefully screen all donated blood for infectious agents (such as viruses) or other factors that could make you sick. Blood banks also screen each blood donation to find out whether it's type A, B, AB, or O and whether it's Rh-positive or Rh-negative.

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