Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

Blood donor sues Stanford over infection

Man's collar bone eaten away by bacteria allegedly due to contaminated needle stick at Blood Center

by Sue Dremann

A Palo Alto man, Christopher Bui, is suing Stanford Hospital and Clinics after developing a severe infection when he donated blood.

Bui has donated blood to Stanford Hospital and Clinic's Blood Center for 10 years. He gave his O-positive type blood, among the most critically needed, because he wanted to help people, his attorney said.

But when he developed an infection in April 2008, allegedly as a result of a needle stick, Stanford did not help him, despite expensive surgery that included removing his collar bone and a long recovery, according to his attorney, Joseph Carcione Jr.

"He still has problems related to the injury that manifest in various ways in daily life. Stanford helped him a little bit, but when it got expensive they stopped," Carcione said.

Bui, 43, filed a lawsuit on June 29, 2009, against Stanford Blood Center, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University and its various entities: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, School of Medicine and Medical Center.

As a blood donor, Bui could have benefited any or all of those organizations. The suit alleges medical malpractice and breach of contract because the blood center assured Bui they would take care of him if something went wrong, according to Carcione.

"I don't understand. You ask someone to give something of themselves to help you and then you turn your back on him and they say goodbye. If people are giving blood they should be a little more cautious," Carcione said.

Carcione said the sum his client will ask for has not been determined and could be affected by how much Stanford earns from selling donated blood.

Stanford Hospital and Clinics released a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"Due to the privacy interests of its patients, Stanford University Medical Center cannot comment on the allegations raised by the blood donor's attorney. The Stanford Blood Center has long standing and safe procedures in place for the donation of blood by its many volunteers.

"The incidence of any complication from a blood donation is rare and usually limited to temporary bruising. Blood draws are done by way of a single-use needle that is prepackaged in a sterile container.

"The needle container is obtained from a manufacturer not owned or affiliated with Stanford and once the needle has been used for the single donation, it is then discarded. Donors may get infections from sources unrelated to the blood donation," wrote Gary Migdol, director of communications.

The Stanford Blood Center is a division of Stanford University. The nonprofit entity provides blood products and services to Stanford University Medical Center and other medical institutions in Northern California.

The case is being litigated in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Comments

Posted by a loyal blood donator to Stanford, a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:49 am

As a regular blood donator to Stanford - I am interested to know if Stanford sell the blood? (I have seen this info in a printed version of a local newspaper).

I want to donate my blood (pretty rare type) to an organization that does not make a profit out of it.

Does anyone know wether Stanford sells the blood?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:16 am


The Stanford protocol for blood donations looks very clear and sterile.

Christopher Bui, depending upon his life style, could have picked up his MRSA infection in many places and circumstances.

If this turns out to be a spurious matter then Bui should be made to pay Stanfords costs and his attorney should be severely disciplined by the State Bar.


Posted by ex-stanford donor, a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

I used to donate via the stanford mobile bloodmobile but stopped, reason: If you try and donate towards the end of their time at the location they will find some excuse that you cannot donate. For me it was my blood pressure being too high, which was wrong. when that started happening to me, I bought myself a monitor and also went to clincs and got my BP Checked and it was NOT high. So I go to my local Red Cross and had no problems donating blood...go figure


Posted by Mark, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:38 am

Blood, once collected by blood collection agencies (Stanford, the Red Cross, Blood Centers of the Pacific, etc.) are indeed sold to hospitals to use. Why? Because the cost of storage, processing and testing for infectious disease is huge.

Blood must be kept in refigeration, which is itself draws large amounts of energy (and therefore cost). During transport, blood products must remain in the cold chain to prevent perishment. Coolers and other devices must be used.

Facilities also process the blood. Blood must be typed (A/B pos-neg), tested for 8+ viral/bacterial diseases (HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis, HTLV, West Nile, etc.) and undergo even further quality control testing for bacterial contamination. Blood may also undergo further purification by using filters to remove white blood cells which might cause a reaction in some patients.

The process is extremely time consuming and expensive. So someone needs to pay for it, which ranges at about $100-$300 per unit of blood. Ultimately though, hospitals purchase the blood products to pay for the essential testing and storage needed.

Voluntary donors are needed because this population can be attracted without need for financial reasons. People who desperately need money - which includes populations of the drug user community and sex worker community - may feel inclined to lie on their intake sheets if there is a montary incentive to do so. Because infectious disease testing isn't 100% accurate, potentially accepting this population group presents an unacceptable risk. Having said that, selling your own blood isn't necessarily illegal in the US - just generally discouraged by regulatory agencies. Most well established blood collection agencies don't pay their donors.


Posted by george, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:29 am

There are 4 primary blood types - A, B, AB, and O; all are either positive or negative. O negative is the universal donor and can be given to any of the positive or negative types. Positive O blood can only be given to positive types. The others can only be given to their own type. That's why O, either positive or negative, is so needed.

Some people with normal blood pressure get anxious when tested for giving blood (especially if they have to wait) and the pressure rises temporarily. To some the sight of sticking needles in someone is unsettling.

I agree that blood donations should be taken from volunteers for the reasons Mark gave. Even then, the blood is tested to minimize infections. I've donated blood for over 60 years and never had any problems. As the article stated, infections can be contacted from many other sources not connected with the giving of blood.


Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:34 am

Of course blood banks make a profit on donations. How do you expect them to stay in business? Before I had surgery, I donated blood for my own use. Yes, I was charged for my own blood. I gladly paid the bill. I just wish more people would freely donate. Only about 5% of eligible people actually donate. It's easy, safe and you might save a life. The risk of infection approaches zero.


Posted by Don G., a resident of Community Center
on Jan 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm

My family regularly donates blood at Stanford blood center (3 grown sons plus wife and myself). We consider their practices and screening to be very thorough and safe. As members of the community and through our eligibility, we feel it is the least we can do to help other people. I don't care if they sell the blood or not--people need it.


Posted by Baba, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm

It is unfortunate that anyone suffers a severe drug-resistant infection, wherever it was acquired. That said, it is also possible to find an attorney who will file a suit against a big-name institution like Stanford without delving into the facts.

I am a frequent donor and a regular volunteer at the Stanford Blood Center; I've never seen a physician in the center working as a phlebotomist: nurses, medical assistants and other technicians do all the draws with sterile disposable needles and using closely monitored technique.

I work as a volunteer usually on mobile units and have not ever seen anyone deferred "because it was too late" in the day. We frequently are at the site and taking donors well past our scheduled time, and we are grateful to all donors.

Blood donations are truly a gift of life to members of our wider community. To expect the Center to operate without covering its operating costs through charges for the processing, testing, transporting and research it does to support progress in the specialty is unreasonable.

I can only hope that there will be equal time and headlines given to the positive contributions of the Stanford Blood Center to our community.


Posted by Julie, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I think the character and lifestyle of the plaintiff should be evaluated including past drug use where a contaminated needle could have been used. There are more sources for contaminated needles than a regulated blood bank.


Posted by troubling, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I know Chris Bui. He is a dedicated, generous man who has donated blood as often as he is permitted. He believes in volunteerism and has given much of his time...and blood in service of others. I also remember when he nearly died from this infection, which he got immediately after donating blood. He did not talk to many people about how he got the infection because he did not want people to be frightened about donating blood.

It is too bad that it became necessary for Chris to take this action. It is appalling that Julie and Sharon are attempting to impugn his character and lifestyle in their posts. So quick to blame the victim. Perhaps Julie and Sharon need some self reflection.


Posted by stanford blood center volunteer, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm

In response to 'loyal blood donator', Stanford blood center is a nonprofit organization. It sells the blood products to Stanford Hospital, El camino hospital, LPCH, etc. to cover the costs it takes to run the center, the lab, testing, and everything else the blood center does. So the money is just used to keep the centers running and the employees paid :)


Posted by george, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:52 am

Troubling: I'm sure Mr. Bui is an honorable man, but why did he (apparently) think he got his infection from the Blood Bank? I, and others, know the precautions it takes, and I've never heard of any infection problem with even one of the tens of thousands of donors.

Why was it "necessary for Chris to take this action" i.e. sue Stanford? There are hundreds of places to pick up diseases in today's world where precautions such as the blood bank takes are not made - newspaper racks, handles of doors, money from cash registers, uncovered coughs and sneezes, and on and on. Was another source of infection considered or investigated?


Posted by karen, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:34 am

Stanford does not make money on the blood you donate. It could never cover the cost of processing and providing blood for people who really need it. The system of volunteer blood donors is the best practice to insure healthy people are donating blood. Any information or questions could be correctly answered by the your community blood bank. Not for profit organizations run blood banks.
american association of blood banks, or california blood banking system would be a good resource also. inspections are manditory by several agencies and fda. Please do not let unverified sources provide you with information that could be wrong and decrease blood donations. This is a vital service and a true gift of life for those that receive the blood you donate.


Posted by blood donator to Stanford, a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm


This whole discussion raised another question (responding also to Neal, above, who had to pay for his own blood) -
I came here from another country where a blood donator gets blood insurance(?) for the donator and close family, in case of need (nobody looks forward to that..)

Anyone knows if there is such an option in the US? if so where?

thanks!!


Posted by Tim B, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

I think Mr. Bui is after the wrong party. He might as well sue the FDA for the infection. The FDA mandates a 30 second scrub with iodine prior to drawing the donor (unless he is allergic to iodine, then an alternate prep is used). I am willing to bet that Stanford complies with the law on this and the scrub (and swab) are in their Standard Operating Procedures. Since this is the case the FDA is the party responsible, not Stanford unless negligence can be proven. Also, I take offense that the article states the blood was sold. BLOOD IS NEVER SOLD.
In fact the hospitals are charged a processing fee for the service of collecting, testing, processing and distributing blood. All organizations that collect blood (that go to patients) for the community are NON-Profit, and have been so since at least the late 1970's. Plasma centers are the ones that PAY for plasma. They are for profit and the PLASMA they collect goes to manufacturing, not directly to patients. This plasma generally comes from higher risk groups as they are FINANCIALLY MOTIVATED to donate.
I would like to point out that the risks from donating are VERY low. I personally recommend donating in a donor center because the enviroment is calmer and in my opinion donors are likely to have a somewhat better experience, although bloodmobiles are perfectly fine for donating in as well.


Posted by RN, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Be careful before you condemn Mr. Bui. I don't know the details here, but I was bothered enough by what I viewed as lax infection control practices when Stanford Blood Center came to my work place that I eventually stopped donating. They can have all the SOPs they want in place but if their technicians move from one donor to the next w/o changing gloves and cleaning their hands, it doesn't matter.


Posted by Outrageous comments, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 16, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I have to say that I find some of the comments here attacking Mr Bui and questioning his lifestyle as very disturbing. The comments by Sharon, Julie and George are disgusting, especially those by Sharon and Julie. i know that Sharon has a reputation on this forum for making outrageous and indefensible statements--this looks like it is her latest revolting comment. I suggest that we let this matter play out in the courts and see what happens


Posted by george, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Outrageous: I hardly think my comments were out of line. I simply posed a few questions that should be answered before either you or I can make a judgement. As far as I can tell, no one knows who is culpable yet.

I, too, recommend donating at one of the local blood donor centers. Two in Palo Alto, one at 3373 Hillview Ave. (lovely facilities), one is at 780 Welch Rd. Suite 100. The Mt. View Center is at 515 South Drive, Suite 20.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2010 at 8:34 pm

From the comments so far we have a good indication of what a jury will say.

The high cost of health care is to a great extent the result of the greed of personal injury lawyers suing health providers for anything and everything, we all know this.
We need a fair law that if you sue someone and loose in such cases then you have to pay the costs of the defendant and the court at the very least.

The malpractice insurance rates are putting many health care providers out of business.


Posted by Friend of bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 17, 2010 at 8:46 am

I have to laugh when Sharon knows what jury will say based on comments from people who do not know the facts of the case. Thanks, Sharon, your wisdom is hilarious


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm

We will see if the judge and jury find community comments in this case
"hilarious"
This is a very serious allegation that accuses Stanford Blood Bank of serious negligence for financial gain.

A jury of peers will decide this matter.

Well done Stanford for standing up in this matter and not just settling to avoid court cost.
Enough is enough of this sort of action, the attorney will be held to account by his/her peers as will the plaintiff.

This case will be a turning point we believe, and about time.


Posted by Friend of Bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 18, 2010 at 8:15 am

"We will see if the judge and jury find community comments in this case
"hilarious""

Community comments on this case should play no role in this case--they are not evidence and not based on any facts.

"This is a very serious allegation that accuses Stanford Blood Bank of serious negligence for financial gain."
Yes, it is a serious allegation, however I do not think that the Mr Bui is doing this for financial gain. Anyway, even if he wins the case, he may get nothing

"Enough is enough of this sort of action, the attorney will be held to account by his/her peers as will the plaintiff."
You seem to have decided that Mr Bui is lying and is suing only for financial gain. Do you have any proof. Have you presented your evidence to the Stanford attorneys? You seem also to suggest that Mr Bui's attorney is lying also. Do you have any proof of this?

"This case will be a turning point we believe, and about time. "
Who is we? A turning point for what?


Enough with the overheated rheotoric, Sharon. If you have any evidence in this case then please make it known to the court. Otherwise your opinions have no place in the court.


Posted by Margaret, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

I am a Immunohematologist in a large hospital Blood Bank. I have been at this job for more than 30 years and have seen how medicine has changed for the better of all. Safety above everything else is a factor that benefits not only the patients and donors but the staffs that service the entire medical community. Safety measures are in place to protect all. A simple example of this is the requirement that we wear gloves. This practice isn't to only protect patients and donors, but also: Dr's,nurses,techs, aides, housekeeping, engineering...the gloves provide a "protective" barrier from any "hazard" that could be potentially harmful to the person giving or recieving the assistance. Safety measures have been put into place because studies have been done to ensure we are all protected.
The same argument goes for lab coats, scrubs, masks, air filters...they are for the protection of all of us, be it the community as donors or the medical staff.
As for buying and selling blood-some of you do not know what the laws are. Contact the FDA, we are governed by the FDA because blood is considered a drug, there are rules and regulations and if not followed the blood banks, or drawing sites will be shut down. Blood cannot be bought or sold. There are costs involved, ie: materials, staff, drawing sites, processing materials as well as specialized tests done on the product to ensure the public the blood and its derivitives are safe. When the blood and blood products arrive at the hospitals there are additional requirements for testing of the product as well as the patients to again ensure a safe product is transfused.
I am sorry for the infection and outcome this gentleman and former donor suffered, but is entirely possible it had nothing to do with the donation, but IF the donation was the cause of the infection test can and probably were performed to identify the germ that caused the problems, providing the answers that the lawyers make their cases with.
When one donates blood and or organs they are giving the "GIFT OF LIFE" to another, it isn't done to harm anyone. GOod luck to all parties involved.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm


Margaret

Interesting comment, forensics evidence may already be in Stanford hands which may be why they are vigorously defending themselves.

One of the issues that troubles us is that the plaintiff attorney made statements to the press which are inflamatory and lack even a basic understanding of the economics and FDA regulation of Blood Banks.
We mean, the least he could have done for his client is to use Google and find out, in .001 seconds, that Stanford Blood Bank and the other Stanford members he accuses of trading blood for profit are in fact non profit organizations.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Friend of Bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 19, 2010 at 6:21 am

Sharon why don't provide us with a link to these "inflammatory" comments made by Mr Bui's lawyer.
It seems to me that you have issues with Mr Bui and his lawyer, otherwise why the rhetoric in which you tarnish Mr Bui and his lawyer.
Do you have facts pertaining to this case that you have not made available to the court? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:31 am


Here is the attorneys public statement to the press in this matter---

"Over the last 10 years, Christopher Bui, 43, had regularly donated his 0-positive type blood for free at the Stanford Blood Center, his attorney Joseph Carcione Jr. said.
Then in April 2008, Bui came down with a debilitating infection and, when he could not afford the expenses anymore, Stanford denied him care, Carcione said.

"I find Stanford to be absolutely disgusting in terms of the way they deal with people like Mr. Bui. It's just disgusting," Carcione said.

In June 2009, Bui filed a suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Stanford Blood Center, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, school of medicine and medical center.

The suit alleges that Stanford injured Bui on April 10, 2008, when they took his blood and that they backed out of a promise to take care of him if anything happened to him by virtue of his donations, Carcione said.
The suit furthermore accuses the hospital of being unjustly enriched by taking his blood under false pretenses and selling it, Carcione said.

He said the sum of the suit will be determined once he verifies how much Stanford earns from selling donated blood."

link Web Link


Posted by Friend of Bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

Sharon, you previously stated:
"One of the issues that troubles us is that the plaintiff attorney made statements to the press which are inflamatory and lack even a basic understanding of the economics and FDA regulation of Blood Banks."

What in the statement that you posted above is "inflammatory"?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] So far you have not provided any proof to suggest that Mr Bui is wrong or that Stanford is wrong--all you have done is engaged in character assassination of Mr Bui and his lawyer.
This issue will be decided in the courts based on the evidence presented at trial--not based on comments by people such as yourself, who clearly knows nothing about the case, besides what your read in the paper.


Posted by rene, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Of course the blood is sold just like anything else. I lived in Europe and each blood unit there costs about $400 even in a socialized medicine country. This cost is to cover for the all costs incurred for collecting, manufacturing, testing, distribution etc...

All blood banks are non for profit as they only make enough money to recoup the costs, pay staff, insurances etc


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Friend of Bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Friend of the court, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Sounds to me that Mr Migdol is admitting that what Bui says happened actually happened--he states that an occurrence of a complication from a blood donation is rare--indicating that it can happen, but rarely does. He then states that complications are usually limited to temporary bruising--meaning there are occurences when it is not limited to that. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm


To Paloaltooneline, thanks for your moderating, though the Stanford eloquent rebuttal to carciones allegations got lost in the shuffle.

Would you please keep us posted in the event that this case is not dismissed and in fact were to go forward.

As you know many of your readers are Stanford Alumna and Alumni, as well as frequent blood and money donors to Stanford, so we take a very serious interest in the matter.

Thanks


Posted by Friend of Bui, a resident of Woodside
on Jan 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

While I do not agree with Sharon's postings, I have to say that the editing performed by the PA staff borders on the ridiculous. First of all they leave up the posts for days and then edit. then they completely remove a benign post from Sharon and my response to that post, yet they leave a reference to the post by another poster--people who read the thread will have no clue as to what is going on.
Isn't it time that the editors exercise some thought before they start deleting left and right? Is that too much to ask of the satff of Palo Alto online.
BTW, I would hardly call Mr Migdol's comments regarding the case as being eloquent. they are the typical talk you get in response to a lawsuit.


Posted by Nigel Rockport, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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