Shortage delays blood testing for patients

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 September, 2009, 12:00am

Blood tests for patients at four public hospital clinics in east Kowloon have been delayed because of a shortage of tests tubes. The wait in one case is more than a month.

The shortage emerged yesterday when an 80-year-old outpatient told a Commercial Radio programme that he would have to wait three months for a blood test after recording a high blood-sugar level.

The patient, surnamed Chan, went for a checkup on July 28 and was alerted to the risk. A high blood-sugar level is an early sign of diabetes. A blood test was booked for Thursday at the Kwun Tong Jockey Club Health Centre, but he was told a few days ago that it would be rescheduled to October 28 due to the test tube shortage.

Lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming, who is helping the man, said more people had been affected as three other facilities -the Shun Lee Government Clinic, Kowloon Bay Health Centre and Ngau Tau Kok Jockey Club Clinic - had the same problem.

A spokeswoman for United Christian Hospital, which operated the four clinics, said it was adopting a new programme for patients with chronic diseases, so extra test tubes were used to take more blood samples for testing.

'There are temporary shortages of test tubes in the clinics,' she said. 'The Hospital Authority will closely liaise with the Department of Health and the latter will increase supplies in a few days. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to patients.'

Emergency blood tests would not be affected, she said.

Li said the situation was unacceptable because rolling out a new programme should not jeopardise the needs of other patients. 'The shortage could have been avoided.'