Skip to comments.Deadline runs out for blood patients
Posted on 05/28/2003 6:02:58 PM PDT by Prince Charles
Deadline runs out for blood patients
By Auslan Cramb, Scotland Correspondent (Filed: 29/05/2003)
Patients who contracted hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood products could lose the chance to claim compensation because their medical records have been lost.
More than 150 haemophiliacs in Britain are suing American drug companies who supplied the NHS with infected products in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
But lawyers representing scores of patients whose records have disappeared, or are incomplete, said they could miss tomorrow's deadline for filing claims against the manufacturers.
Without the records, the patients will be unable to prove in an impending American court case that the infection was contracted as a resulted of infected products supplied from the US.
Denis Whalley, a lawyer involved in the claims, said: "So far as the court in California is concerned, you have to start proceedings within 12 months of knowing that you have a potential claim."
When it came to light at the start of the year that the records were missing from Scottish hospitals, Malcolm Chisholm, the Health Minister, urged hospitals and health trusts to find the information. But it has since emerged that many records were destroyed, or are incomplete.
Philip Dolan, chairman of the Scottish Haemophilia Groups Forum, said he was shocked to learn that scores of patients could lose out.
"They are told initially that there is a problem finding them. And when they do track them down, they are incomplete. Most often, there is a gap in them for the early 1980s, when most of the problems arose."
In the 1980s, supplies of a clotting factor for patients with blood disorders ran low, forcing the NHS to import the material from the US, where some of the products were alleged to have been gathered from donors including prisoners and drug addicts.
The FOBs were up to their old tricks again.
Hep C was discovered in 1990; the first HIV diagnostic was developed in 1985.
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