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Blood Transfusion Errors and Medical Malpractice

May 20, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

During the fiscal year 2008, 54 reported transfusion-related and potentially transfusion-related fatalities occurred in the United States, with subsequent reports of 66 in 2009 and 64 in 2010. Preventable medical errors rank third among the leading causes of death in the nation, claiming more than 400,000 lives each year. These errors cost the country tens of billions of dollars a year.

It is reported that one in three patients who visit a hospital will be harmed as a result of medical errors. The numbers are growing at an alarming rate.

Patients are concerned about receiving blood that is contaminated with hepatitis or AIDS, and their worries are well founded. However, a condition known as Acute Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction (HTRs or AHTRs) is the most common cause of death from blood transfusion.

Many of these fatalities are completely preventable and happen when an incompatible or incorrect blood type is given to a patient. It is estimated that about 13 deaths occur every year due to these errors.

Causes of Blood Transfusion Errors

According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), some of the main causes for blood transfusion errors are:

  • Incomplete verification of patient blood transfusion
  • Failure to recognize the sign and symptoms of a reaction to the transfusion
  • Lack of informed consent for a blood transfusion
  • Cross-match of multiple samples at the same time, or starting a cross-match before receiving an order
  • Insufficient staff orientation and training
  • Insufficient levels of staffing
  • Storing multiple blood samples in the same refrigerator
  • Incomplete communication among medical professionals involved in the patient’s care
  • Errors in patient identification, blood labels, or specimen labels

Types of Blood Transfusion Errors

Due to blood compatibility’s delicate nature and the body’s reliance upon healthy levels of levels, a wide variety of errors can occur during a transfusion. Some serious blood transfusion errors that commonly occur include:

  • Transfusion of wrong blood type – Blood that is given to a patient must match their ABO and RhD antigen. This causes the immune system to attack the blood, leading to a severe allergic reaction.
  • Improper transfusion – Healthcare professionals must make sure that blood transfusion is properly done and that all devices are in proper working order. If not, it can result in clotting, air bubbles and infection in the blood.
  • Unnecessary transfusions – A transfusion is not required in every condition. When excess blood is transfused, it can result in many complications within the body and organs.
  • Lack of transfusion – When a patient has lost a great amount of blood, ensuring that blood is transfused as quickly as possible can keep their hearts from shutting down. Failing to act promptly, can result in a fatality.
  • Contaminated blood – Medical professionals need to make sure that blood used for transfusions are properly tested. If this is not done and the blood contains a disease, the patient that receives the blood can become infected as a result of the transfusion.

Negligence, poor staff training and patient mix-ups are causes of these serious and dangerous errors. Patients can file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or medical professional that made the blood transfusion error.

If you or a loved one is a victim of blood transfusion error, you should immediately seek the help of qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falloff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280.

What do you have to say? Give us a call. Medical malpractice cases are time consuming and expensive but we can win them and we engage cases like this all the time if they are viable. The first meeting is free – it will cost you nothing. We want to hear about your situation. If you have a case, we will carry this legal baton all the way to the winning verdict or settlement finish line. We will try to settle with the opposition since there is no guarantees in regards to a trial.

We know how to win cases. We know what a winning case looks like. Give RMFW Law a call. We are not paid until you are paid.