Fri, Aug 23, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Hospital denies forging documents in HIV spread case

Staff writer, with CNA

The National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) on Wednesday denied forging documents in an attempt to shirk responsibility for the oversight that resulted in the transplantation of organs from an HIV-positive patient.

Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), head of the hospital’s department of traumatology, was the only one of the medical staff disciplined for the error. Ko’s wife, Chen Pei-chi (陳佩琪), accused the hospital on Tuesday of putting all the blame on the traumatologist at a time when he was out of the country and unable to defend himself.

She claimed that the written standard operating procedure for organ transplants — which Ko is said to have violated when he was the hospital’s transplant chief — was created only after the erroneous transplant operations.

The hospital issued a general response late on Wednesday that gave few specifics, saying there was “absolutely no forging” involved in the case.

Ko was able to voice all of his concerns when the investigation was being conducted by the government’s Commission on Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries, the hospital said.

The incident in question occurred in August 2011 when five patients received organs from an HIV-positive donor due to an error in the suitability verification process. Four of the transplants took place at the hospital. The other took place at a hospital in Greater Tainan.

Ko, then head of the organ transplant task force, was impeached in August last year before the case was referred to the committee for administrative discipline. He also received a two-grade demotion from his position as a medical school professor earlier this month while out of the country.

Ko said upon returning to Taiwan on Wednesday that he felt “ambushed” for being given the demotion while physically absent.

However, he said he does not plan to file a lawsuit, adding that he understands the damning report was endorsed by hospital authorities seeking “to protect themselves.”

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