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Can I sue the doctor who transfused HIV positive blood into a healthy person?

Q: One of my relatives has been infected with HIV due to the doctor's negligence. The doctor transfused the blood of an HIV infected person. Without knowing the medical history of the donor, he allowed him to donate blood. My relative is now HIV +ve and his life is completely ruined. He has two teenaged children and all his income goes for the treatment. I want to help him. Should the doctor be punished for his negligence and victim be compensated? How can I proceed and what does the law say about such cases, especially blood transfusion?

A:You must appreciate that all blood banks need to be registered with the local authorities and are bound by law to follow internationally accepted guidelines for HIV screening of donor blood before transfusion. Despite testing, there is a very small chance that the virus may escape detection (the window period). It appears that this is what must have happened. Although it is rather unfortunate, but this kind of infection can and does happen occasionally. I suggest that you utilise all your resources in providing help to your relative rather than go into a prolonged and fruitless litigation.


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