With elderly victim in stable condition, Prince of Wales sets up panel to investigate the mix-up The Hospital Authority has set up an inquiry into why a patient was given the wrong blood type in a transfusion at one of Hong Kong's leading public hospitals. The 74-year-old woman was in stable condition yesterday at the Prince of Wales Hospital, which is the teaching hospital of Chinese University. The last blunder involving a blood transfusion happened in August 1997, when a 20-year-old victim of a road crash died after receiving the wrong type of blood at Queen Mary Hospital, which is associated with the University of Hong Kong. The chief executive of the Hospital Authority, William Ho Shiu-wei, expressed his concerns about the latest the incident yesterday. He announced that a panel would be set up to determine exactly what happened and to make recommendations regarding how to improve the blood-transfusion procedure. The panel will be chaired by Cheung Wai-lun, chief executive of the New Territories West hospitals cluster. Its other members will be Liu Shao-haei, senior executive manager for professional services, Lin Che-kit, chief executive of Hong Kong Blood Transfusion Services and Shing Ming-kwong, chairman of the Prince of Wales Hospital's transfusion committee. The patient, who was suffering from gastroenteritis, was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday. She was given a blood transfusion the following day. The blunder came to light when the patient developed symptoms including chills and fever during the transfusion. It was discovered she was being given blood type B rather than her own type O. Kwok Ka-ki, a private surgeon and convenor of the Action Group on Medical Policy, said such mix-ups were rare because hospitals had stringent procedures for checking blood types before carrying out transfusions. 'Hospitals repeatedly check the blood type of patients. The Red Cross also has a very stringent procedure to identify the blood type before storing it in its blood bank,' Dr Kwok said. 'Medical workers normally use a special gadget and bar code to double-check whether the blood matches the patient's before they carry out a transfusion.' Dr Kwok said patients given the wrong blood type could suffer organ failure and severe bleeding. The patient would develop symptoms such as high fever and serious rashes within hours of the procedure and could die within 24 hours. The private surgeon said people with type O blood were 'universal donors' as people of all other blood types can receive type O blood. However, those who had type O blood could not receive blood types except their own. 'It is absolutely necessary for the Hospital Authority to set up a special panel to carry out an investigation in view of the seriousness of the possible medical consequences,' Dr Kwok said. 'However, it is almost impossible to be 100 per cent sure of preventing blunders because medical services are provided by people and humans can make mistakes. 'So what we need to do is to set up new measures to try to further eliminate those human errors,' he added.