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Regional Public Journalism
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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Blood Drives Could Soon Require More Medical Oversight

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A bill in the Oregon House would require that a doctor or nurse to be on hand for all blood donations.

The Oregon House is set to vote Monday on a measure that would require a doctor or nurse to be on hand when you donate a pint of blood.

Supporters, including a union that represents nurses, say the bill is needed to protect blood donors in case something goes wrong. Opponents, including blood banks, say medical emergencies are extremely rare and that calling paramedics is the best option in any case.

Jeff Allen oversees blood drives for the American Red Cross in the northwest. He said the Red Cross has nurses on site for about 90 percent of its blood drives. But he said in rural areas especially, the proposed law would drive up the cost of accepting the life-giving donations.

"If we have an obligation to always be having nurses on hand, these are areas where blood drives will cease to exist entirely,” Allen said.

The bill would create a $1,000 penalty for a violation, but it doesn't specifically authorize the state to inspect blood drives.