Hanoi hospital cuts HIV test strips into two

By Le Nga   December 9, 2019 | 07:59 pm PT
Hanoi hospital cuts HIV test strips into two
An HIV test strip at the Saint Paul Hospital in Hanoi (R) and half of another strip. Photo by VnExpress.
Thousands of HIV test strips were cut in half at Hanoi's Saint Paul Hospital to be used for two people.

Staff of the hospital's Department of Microbiology used blood samples on each half of the test strip to determine whether a person had HIV. The results were shown about four hours later.

The misconduct was discussed at a Monday meeting between the hospital's managerial board and Hanoi Department of Health.

The hospital denied having provided the compromised trips, saying they were from the Luc Tinh Company, a private medical equipment supplier.

"The HIV test strips that were cut were provided by Luc Tinh Company free of charge and they were not the ones provided by the hospital for its patients. They were used as an experiment. The cut strips were not provided by the hospital and were independent from the tests done for its patients," a spokesperson of the hospital said at the meeting.

"All the HIV rapid tests were not given to exploit health insurance benefits," the spokesperson added.

Nguyen Dinh Hung, the hospital director, said Tuesday that only 40 such strips had been cut in half of testing in the past three months. They were used in experiment that was not informed to the hospital's leaders, he added.

Tran Thi Nhi Ha, Deputy Director of Hanoi Department of Health, said at the Monday meeting that whether the test strips being cut in half and used as an experiment or not, it was still a violation.

"Cutting the strips in half will definitely not guarantee an accurate result," Ha said. "This behavior is completely against the procedures for medical examination and testing."

The Department of Health has asked the Saint Paul's Hospital to suspend three staff of the Department of Microbiology – the department's deputy head, its head technician and the technician involved in the misconduct. The hospital was also required to formally explain the incident to the Ministry of Health, the Hanoi People's Committee and the city Department of Health.

Ha also said that for any violation committed, people involved would be held to account, individually and collectively, and face disciplinary action.

The Hanoi Department of Health has assigned medical specialists to examine the incident. The department is also reviewing the hospital's chemical inventory books and records of trial tests at the hospital to identify violations.

Other microbiologists have said that the cutting of strips was unacceptable because it could compromise the accuracy of the test. It was a serious issue because an HIV-positive person could be informed he/she has tested negative, they said.

An HIV test kit with 100 test strips costs VND3 million ($130).

The management board of the hospital has also said it will conduct its own inquiry.

Saint Paul's is the largest hospital under the management of Hanoi Department of Health.

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