Blog: The Red Cross’s troubled blood donation history

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The Red Cross in in the cross hairs once again.

According to a report by ProPublica, the Food and Drug Administration gave the American Red Cross a $10 million fine for “safety violations, lax oversight and faulty testing of its blood services.”

[pullquote]”Many of the violations recounted in this letter are virtually identical to violations charged [previously].”[/pullquote]

In June of 2010 the FDA hit the American Red Cross with a $16 million fine for similar violations.

In fact, since 2003, there have been 13 penalties against the Red Cross, amounting to $46 million in fines.

Part of the document sent by the FDA on Jan. 13, 2012 for the latest fine said:

“Many of the violations recounted in this letter are virtually identical to violations charged [previously].”

According to ProPublica, the 32-page letter describes hundreds of violations in 2010.  According to the article, new donors with infected blood were sometimes not added to a national list of people who can’t donate.  In other instances, the Red Cross didn’t notify other health professionals when donors had HIV and syphilis.

But safety concerns are just one issue for the Red Cross.  The organization has also been under heavy criticism for management of donations for disaster relief.  Sometimes donations are saved for other problems and overhead costs rather than being spent on the problem they were donated for.

There has been criticism of Red Cross management of donations for 9/11 victims, Hurricane Katrina victims, Japan’s tsunami victims, and even for a fire east of San Diego.

According to an article in the Taipei Times, many people were infuriated over delays in the donations given to disaster victims in Japan.  More than 20,000 people joined a Facebook group calling on the Red Cross to immediately send the remaining amount of money from donations or refund all donations.

Watch local news coverage of the 2010 blood donation fine.

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