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Tainted Blood Cited In Patient's Death
Blood Platelets Tainted With E.Coli Bacteria
POSTED: 8:20 am CDT July 27, 2006

UPDATED: 8:27 am CDT July 27, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A hospital patient died after receiving a unit of blood platelets tainted with E.coli bacteria, the Community Blood Center in Kansas City disclosed Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration has determined the transfusion last Dec. 21 was a "contributing factor" in the patient's death.
"It truly was a tragic incident, and a very rare series of mistakes," David Graham, director of donor recruitment for the blood center, told The Associated Press. "We thought we had a redundant and robust system. We had multiple failures of that system."
Citing patient confidentiality, Graham said he could not discuss the hospital or the patient, other than to say the person was being treated for a serious illness at a Kansas City-area hospital. Only one unit of the tainted substance was released, he said.
E.coli bacteria can cause severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Young children and the elderly are at risk for complications that can lead to kidney damage or death. Platelets help with clotting and are used with trauma victims and patients undergoing surgery or cancer treatments.
Graham said the blood center discovered the problem and notified the hospital within hours of the hospital receiving the tainted unit of platelets. But the unit already had been used, he said.
The center immediately notified the FDA, which already was on site conducting a routine inspection, Graham said.
In a warning letter dated March 9, the FDA chastised the blood center, saying its procedures are "not always maintained and followed." The agency also pointed out problems with inadequate training and said the blood center had failed to maintain adequate records of donors who experienced reactions such as fainting or vomiting.
Messages left with the FDA Wednesday night were not immediately returned.
Graham said the problems had been rectified.
"We made changes to our process, our policy, and we made personnel changes," he said, while declining to say whether anyone had been fired over the tainted blood transfusion.
Graham said potential donors and the 45,000 people who receive blood and blood products from the Community Blood Center each year had no reason to worry.
"The blood supply is safer now than it has ever been," he said.