If you are seriously injured, you may need a blood transfusion to survive. This procedure saves millions of lives each year, but if it’s done incorrectly it can harm you further and in some cases may even be fatal! Transfusion errors are relatively rare, but that is no comfort if you get sick as a result of a transfusion.
The question of whether or not you can sue depends on whether the hospital engaged in medical negligence. Medical negligence occurs whenever a medical provider does not take precautions against foreseeable negative consequences of a procedure. In general, any time a doctor or hospital doesn’t follow standard protocol for a procedure, that constitutes medical negligence.
There are several common complications of blood transfusions hospitals must account for. If they do not take the proper care to prevent these complications, you may have a negligence case.
Donor Mismatch Issues
One of the most common errors occurs when a person is given blood that is incompatible because of a mismatch in blood type. Blood type refers to a series of identifiers in a person’s blood. These identifiers tell the immune system that the blood belongs in the body. So if you are given blood from a non-compatible blood type, your immune system will treat it as a foreign invader and attack it. This can lead to serious illness or death.
Because blood type compatibility is so important, most hospitals have procedures in place to safeguard against donor mismatch errors. Hospitals are supposed to take a blood sample from the patient and the prospective donor and make sure they match before performing a transfusion. The hospital must also double check that the right blood is being used before transfusing it. If the hospital does not follow these procedures, it may constitute negligence.
Any medical procedure comes with the risk of provider error, including blood transfusions. There are protocols in place regarding how much blood to give a patient. Transfusing too much blood can cause serious illness and injury, while not transfusing enough can also lead to complications.
The most common procedural errors involve the use of needles. Needles must be the right length and the provider must take care to insert it properly and in the right place. In addition, hospitals have sterilization requirements for needles and prohibitions against using the same needle twice. These requirements reduce the risk of infection, and if a provider disregards them and you get sick, the hospital may be liable for negligence.
Being given infected blood is a serious concern. In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic began to spread partially because people with hemophilia were given blood that was infected with the HIV virus. For this reason, blood banks today have strict guidelines about who can donate blood and all blood is supposed to be screened for HIV and other serious infections prior to being transported to hospitals.
If a hospital doesn’t screen blood appropriately and you get infected from a transfusion, that may be grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit. However, infected blood cases are among the most difficult when it comes to negligence. You have to be able to demonstrate that it was the hospital and not the blood bank that was in error and that the hospital did not take appropriate precautions to protect you from a blood-borne infection prior to the transfusion.
Blood transfusions are serious business. The last thing you need is to get sicker on top of needing blood to survive. If you or a loved one became sick, injured, or died as the result of a blood transfusion, you may be entitled to compensation.