Medical Malpractice: Improper Blood Transfusions

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   January is recognized annually as National Blood Donation Month. The goal is to increase donations for lifesaving blood supplies to improve the health or save the lives of those in need. The American Red Cross reports that approximately 13,000 blood donations are needed daily to keep the blood supply ready and available to hospitals and clinics across the country. While blood donations are purported to be the gift of life, there are risks and complications caused by improper blood transfusions. Negligent handling, preparing, or administering a blood transfusion can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. In cases of harm resulting from improper blood transfusions, an experienced personal injury attorney can advocate for the patient’s legal rights or their families.

Medical Mistakes in Blood Transfusions can have Fatal Implications.

   A blood transfusion is a potentially high-risk procedure. Health care professionals must follow strict guidelines to ensure the patient’s safety.  A medical professional or health care facility has a duty of care in administering blood, and substandard care constitutes medical malpractice due to negligence. Monetary compensation for medical malpractice includes economic and non-economic damages such as loss of earnings, payment of medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.

   Although advances in technology have lessened the risk of improper blood transfusions, there remains evidence that safety protocols are not always followed. An example is a study done by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2019 at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Following a 23-year-old patient’s death a day after receiving a transfusion, there was an investigation regarding patient monitoring. It revealed that eighteen of thirty-three patients were not adequately monitored by medical staff, placing them at high risk of complications.

Common Medical Malpractice Claims Due to Improper Blood Transfusions are:

  • Administration of blood products to the wrong patient causes serious health complications or wrongful death. Processes such as barcode scanning of blood products and patients should be in place to prevent a patient’s mistaken identity.
  • A poorly written physician’s order can facilitate a poor outcome for the patient. The physician’s order should state identifying information of the patient, the component of the blood that is needed, the unit amount of blood, and the reason for the transfusion. 
  • Expired blood products may be mislabeled at the time of donation or mishandled by hospital or clinic staff. Medical documentation begins with blood donor traceability to ensure that the blood’s handling and labeling are completed correctly.
  • The use of non-sterile equipment when transfusing the patient can lead to severe infections and long-term health consequences. There must be properly sterilized equipment and adequate staff training for infection control measures.
  • Acute Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction occurs when the wrong blood type is transfused. This condition can cause shock, circulatory distress, kidney failure, and other significant implications. A laboratory error when determining a patient’s blood type has devastating consequences.
  • Blood administration delays place the patient at a severe health risk or death. The need for a blood transfusion is generally an emergency. Protocols must also be in place to complete a blood transfusion within a specific timeframe to prevent bacterial contamination and growth.
  • Administering blood or blood products without the informed consent of a mentally and physically competent patient has ethical and legal implications.  A hospital, medical clinic, or medical professional can face claims of liability for negligence, assault, and religious discrimination. Signed consent and documentation of a discussion with the patient regarding the procedure’s risks and benefits must be in place.
  • Failure of medical staff to monitor patients during blood transfusions to manage any adverse reactions or complications promptly can result in potentially fatal consequences.

The Badgley Law Group has a Proven Record of Success in Medical Malpractice Claims.

   When investigating a claim, we thoroughly investigate the medical professionals’ documentation and take all relevant persons and witnesses’ depositions. Our resources include the latest technological advances for legal research, and we utilize expert witnesses as appropriate. Failure to meet a standard of care is compelling evidence for a medical malpractice claim.

   Our law firm has extensive experience in representing personal injury claims and obtaining settlements and favorable verdicts for clients against large corporations and insurance companies. Attorney Jeff Badgley is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer, which distinguishes him as an expert. It is the Florida Bar’s highest recognition. The Martindale Hubble peer review system has recognized him as AV Preeminent, the highest peer rating system, and a testament to his superior professional legal services.

If you or a loved one has suffered from an improper blood transfusion, contact the Badgley Law Group. We offer a free consultation with an exceptional personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Our office is located in Orlando, Florida, and can be contacted for an appointment at 407-606-5603.

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