Blood Transfusion Error
A blood transfusion can be a critical part of someone’s medical care. But as experienced blood transfusion error malpractice attorneys, the Hannon Legal Group can assure you it’s not without risk. That’s why it’s so important for anyone involved in administering treatment that includes a blood transfusion or while a blood transfusion is happening nearby exercise extreme vigilance. If they don’t, the patient can suffer great injury. If you have suffered harm as a result of their negligence, that’s medical malpracticeHow Blood Transfusions Make a Difference in People’s Lives
The very first successful blood transfusion was a low key affair in Philadelphia in 1795. The doctor who performed this breakthrough medical procedure didn’t even bother to announce it.
Since the late eighteenth century, though, many newsworthy advancements in this area of medicine have been made. Physicians have discovered blood types, established blood banks, and instituted screening processes to ensure blood transfusion safety. Today, one out of 10 people entering a hospital will need blood. This year alone, the lives of some 4.5 million Americans will be saved thanks to a blood transfusion.
But what happens when it all goes wrong? Why do blood transfusion errors happen? After all, safety procedures are in place. Each patient's blood is tested for blood type before a transfusion takes place. Only blood that is compatible with that blood type should be on-hand in case a transfusion is needed. Further tests are then performed. Sometimes, yet another test is performed prior to transfusion in order to ensure that the transfusion goes as planned. Still, mistakes are made.Why Blood Transfusion Errors Happen
Think about when blood transfusions are generally called for and you’ll begin to understand why they happen. They’re most likely to occur in a high stress environment during situations that involve a lot of quick decisions among a group of providers. For example, emergency rooms in South Florida, operating rooms, and ICUs are practically breeding grounds for blood transfusion errors. In such situations, doctors or nurses may carelessly deny their patient the minimal acceptable level of care.
On the other hand, administrative errors can be the cause of blood transfusion malpractice. One example of a potentially deadly administrative error occurs when donated blood is mislabeled or improperly screened for contaminants like the HIV virus, which causes the disease AIDS.
So what are the typical medical malpractice scenarios involving blood transfusions? Here are several of the most common situations that the medical malpractice team at Hannon Legal Group has seen:
- Blood Transfusion Errors Examined: The Tragedy of Infected Blood
Any blood that has been donated for transfusions should be thoroughly and properly screened for the antibodies of infectious diseases. But what happens when it isn’t? If it’s not properly screened and the blood ends up infecting a patient, that’s medical malpractice. The medical provider, hospital, or ancillary organization should have known the blood was infected. They must be held accountable for their negligence.
- Blood Transfusion Errors Examined: The Danger of Mismatched Blood
It’s not only infected blood that can be dangerous or deadly. Not all blood types can be received by patients.. There are so-called universal blood donors—persons whose blood type is O-negative. Any patient can receive blood from a universal donor, but most blood types can’t be mixed. If your blood and the donated blood is not carefully screened and typed to ensure the proper match, you could suffer serious injury or even death.
- Blood Transfusion Errors Examined: Poorly Administered Blood
As common as blood transfusions are, you’d think that health care providers wouldn’t make a mistake in the act of administering the transfusion. But it happens. Nurses and doctors alike can be guilty of using the incorrect needle and causing nerve damage, or using an infected needle and inadvertently making their patient sick. Sometimes, blood which is intended for one patient is administered to the wrong patient who does not have a matching blood type. This can cause serious problems for the recipient. If the process is not monitored sufficiently, a patient could receive too much blood. This, too, is a malpractice scenario that could result in death.Other Blood Transfusion Errors
- Blood contaminated because it was not stored properly
- Clotting or bubbles formed in the blood because of a failure to follow transfusion protocols
- Improperly labeled or misread labels, leading to the administration of the incorrect blood type
- Misidentifying the patient
- Poor blood screening, leading to the transfusion of contaminated blood
- Unnecessary blood transfusions
- And other miscellaneous administrative and procedural errors that result in giving a patient contaminated blood or the wrong type of blood
- Acute Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction (AHTR) – When the wrong blood type is administered, the body of the recipient patient may reject the red blood cells and then attack them. The substance released during this process by the dying red blood cells can damage the kidneys. This is a life-threatening condition.
- Blood-borne infections – When donor blood isn’t properly screened for contaminants, blood-borne infections can be passed along to the recipient, including Zika, hepatitis B and C, HIV, West Nile virus, bacterial infections and parasites. What’s worse is that the symptoms of these infections might not present themselves until months after the transfusion takes place.
- Delayed Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction (DHTR) – Like AHTR above, DHTR is a reaction that occurs when the wrong blood type is administered. Unlike AHTR, the attack on—and rejection of— donor cells by the recipient’s blood system happens more slowly, taking place one to four weeks before causing symptoms.
- Febrile Transfusion Reaction – In this frightening situation, the patient experiences a quick spike in fever, along with shaking, chills, heightened blood pressure, elevated respiration, headache, and anxiety. Typically, this occurs shortly after the transfusion starts.
- Iron overload – If a patient has too many transfusions. It could lead to hemochromatosis, also known as iron overload. An iron overload can cause serious damage to the heart and lungs.
- Transfusion-related Lung Injury (TRALI) – This mysterious condition isn’t fully understood by physicians. Antibodies within the blood affect the patient’s lungs, making breathing very difficult. Symptoms for TRALI generally present themselves 1-6 hours following the transfusion.
- Pain and Suffering: Injuries sustained as your trying to recover from a blood transfusion error can cause serious anxiety, emotional scarring and sometimes psychological injury including depression. Compensation for your anguish may be awarded to lessen the damage.
- Punitive Damages: If the actions of your provider were significantly egregious, additional monetary damages may be awarded by the judge or jury to punish the provider for the way they acted in order to help prevent similar behavior in the future.
- The Wages You Lose: If you lose time from your job because of the blood transfusion error, you may be entitled to recover the wages you lost.
- Your Medical Bills: Defendants who are found guilty can be expected to pay for current and future medical expenses necessary to correct any damage they caused through their negligence, including the expenses of physical rehabilitation.
- Wrongful Death: If your loved one was a victim of blood transfusion error malpractice and died as a result, wrongful death compensation may be recovered along with other forms of compensation.
The kinds of medical malpractice scenarios described above aren’t exhaustive. Common mistakes that give rise to blood transfusion error medical malpractice claims include:
At Hannon Legal Group, we know that for a blood transfusion error to qualify as malpractice, a patient must be adversely affected. There are many ways blood transfusion errors can cause harm. And there are many complications that can arise from the negligence of a medical professional, including:
If you have been a victim of blood transfusion error medical malpractice you could be entitled to compensation, including:
There may be other forms of compensation that apply. Talk with a lawyer from Hannon Legal Group who can help you understand the particulars of your case.What To Do If You Are a Victim of Blood Transfusion Error Malpractice
Because blood transfusion errors can happen under the very chaotic and stressful circumstances of an emergency room, your medical malpractice lawyer may have to prove "willful and wanton" negligence. That means more evidence is required than in a simple case of simple negligence as would be the case in other settings. Fortunately, Hannon Legal Group is experienced at representing clients who have suffered in similar cases here in Florida. Our Miami, FL Medical Malpractice team is ready to help you get the justice you deserve. Call us at (305) 358-3109 or send us an email to set up a consultation.