Taiwanese officials began a probe several days ago into the accidental transplant of organs from an HIV-infected donor into four patients.
Now the minister of the health department in Taiwan has launched an investigation that will include three separate task forces into the accident that transplanted a liver, a lung, both kidneys, and a heart from an HIV infected man into patients.
The first task force will be responsible for the investigation and issuing disciplinary measures, the second will work to assist the patients and their families, and the third will work with the hospital to monitor the patients’ health.
The organ transplants occurred last week first at the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), considered as one of the best hospitals in the country, and then at National Cheng Kung University Hospital. Physicians at NTUH may face criminal prosecution if the investigation finds they acted in negligence.
The NTUH said that a staffer misheard the donor’s test results. The staffer was read the results in English and heard “non-reactive” instead of “reactive.”
However, the hospital did not follow proper procedure, as they did not double-check the HIV status, which is required.
NTUH spokeswoman, Tan Ching-ting, said in a conference, “The major fault lies in the failure to double-check the donor’s blood test results before the surgeries."
She added, “We’re terribly sorry and we will certainly shoulder all the responsibility.”
As such, the head of NTUH’s transplant department, Ke Wen-che, has resigned and taken full responsibility for the accident.
Shih Chung-liang of the Taiwan's Department Of Health Bureau of Medical Affairs said in a statement, “The DOH will seek to establish more stringent regulations to ensure medical safety an accuracy for future donations.”
Taiwan does not have a major problem with HIV/AIDS and is considered at a stage of “low-prevalence epidemic.”
The Centers for Disease Control of Taiwan reported in 2011 that Taiwan has 21,158 cases of HIV with 91.7 percent of cases belonging to males, while the highest number of infected people range from ages 30-39.
The first ever case of HIV/AIDS in the country was reported in 1984 when an American physician, who first developed HIV symptoms in Thailand, was diagnosed in Taiwan.
According to Taiwan Today, Taiwan has been extremely successful in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS and serves as an example to other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members that are looking to combat the spreading of the disease.