Man held for drinking patient's blood
Hospitals upgrade security after drunk swallows contents of three vials
A man has been arrested on suspicion of stealing three test tubes of blood samples and swallowing the blood in Yan Chai Hospital.
The Hospital Authority reacted swiftly to the theft, issuing instructions to improve collections of blood samples.
The 29-year-old man was arrested at about 5pm yesterday in his Kwai Chung home. He is alleged to have committed the crime under the influence of alcohol.
A police source said the man entered the hospital in the early hours of Thursday after hurting his leg while drunk.
'An investigation showed that after treatment, he went to the blood bank and emergency laboratory at about 4am,' the source said.
'Inside the room he stretched his hand through a counter and stole three test tubes containing blood samples.'
The man swallowed the blood and dumped three empty test tubes into a rubbish bin at the lift lobby before running away. Staff discovered the theft and called police at about 10.40am.
It is understood that the suspect was identified by police after his actions were captured by surveillance cameras in the hospital.
The police source said officers had received a number of complaints in the past about the man getting drunk and causing trouble.
Last night he was being detained at Tsuen Wan police station for questioning and no charges had been pressed.
After examining surveillance records, Yan Chai Hospital would not confirm whether the man had swallowed the blood. The hospital said all three blood samples belonged to a female patient, who had been suffering abdominal pains.
It had collected further samples for examination after the theft and the results appeared to be normal.
Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said the theft did not involve illegal entry to the blood bank, but they had instructed the hospital to immediately change the design of sample collection boxes.
'The boxes are now deeper and the samples should not be reached by simply putting a hand in them,' he said, adding that the laboratory was already monitored by hospital staff around the clock.
Lily Chiu Lei-lei, chief executive of the Kowloon West cluster, said the hospital would now require staff to check the boxes more frequently.
Lo Wing-lok, a former lawmaker who is an expert on infectious diseases, said drinking blood that had not been sterilised posed health hazards.
There was a risk of being infected with viruses. In the case of HIV, for instance, drinking tainted blood could allow the virus to be passed on through tiny wounds in the mouth and gums.
Dr Lo said it was possible that if the vials of blood were intended for further clinical analysis, they may not have been sterilised.
He said it was not fair to point a finger at the hospital for lax security.
'Most hospitals would not have been prepared for such rare and abnormal behaviour,' he said.
'They might need to take the incident seriously and do something about security safeguards for their analysis laboratories.'