Blood transfusions are used to treat a number of potentially serious life-threatening conditions by taking healthy blood, or blood components from a qualified donor and transferring it to a patient who needs additional blood. A blood transfusion is relatively common and when done properly can help a patient heal faster, and can even save their life.
However, if a blood is contaminated it can result in severe injuries, life-threatening infections, and even death. If you or someone you know has suffered because of a blood contamination in a hospital setting, contact a skilled malpractice attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Blood Transfusion Process
A doctor may order a blood transfusion for a variety of reasons and blood transfusions are commonly performed in medical emergency cases, for patients undergoing surgery, and to treat certain infections and medical conditions such as cancer. Before a patient can receive blood, their doctor must determine what blood type the patient has, because there are eight different blood types, and it can be extremely dangerous to give a patient a blood type different from their own.
Additionally, before a patient can receive a blood transfusion, the hospital has to ensure that the donated blood is free from pathogens such as Hepatitis and HIV. Blood transfusions work by taking healthy blood, or blood components from a qualified donor and infusing the blood into a patient through a small tube placed into a vein over the course of several hours.
During the infusion process, doctors and other medical staff should monitor a patient to ensure that the patient is not experiencing any adverse reactions or complications. A blood transfusion can be an incredibly useful medical procedure that can save a patient’s life or allow the patient to more effectively fight infections and disease, however, a blood transfusion can have potentially serious complications if the transfusion is not properly administered or if the donated blood is contaminated.
Causes of Blood Contamination
While blood transfusions may be a life-saving procedure, it can also cause severe problems if the blood is contaminated. Blood contamination in a hospital setting can occur for a variety of reasons.
Blood contamination occurs when an organism either enters donated blood or is already in donated blood and is not identified through blood screening procedures. Causes of blood contamination include:
- A surgical instrument was not properly washed and sterilized
- Blood was not properly stored and protected in a blood bank
- The blood was exposed to bacteria
- Improper completion of blood transfusions
- Improper screening of blood donors
- Improper dialysis practices
- Other causes of contaminated blood include:
- Lack of proper testing for blood donations
- Incorrect blood donor screening
- Incorrect blood transfusion processes
A patient who has received contaminated blood usually has a compromised immune system, and an infection or a disease from contaminated blood can result in severe reactions and even death.
Hospital’s Liability for Blood Contamination
Many blood contamination cases are entirely preventable. Hospitals, doctors, and medical staff have a duty to:
- Screen blood donations for diseases and pathogens
- Properly label blood donations
- Properly store blood donations
- Ensure hygienic instruments and procedures are used before, during, and after a blood transfusion
If medical staff follow proper procedures, it is highly unlikely that a patient will be exposed to contaminated blood. However, when medical staff does not follow the proper procedures, it can result in serious complications for a patient resulting in further infection, new infections and diseases, and even death.
In these cases, a hospital may be liable for a patient’s injuries, and a patient may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering, for their medical bills, and other expenses associated with blood contamination. Receiving contaminated blood can be potentially devastating. A patient may experience further injuries from contaminated blood or may contract a potentially deadly illness. If you have received contaminated blood in a hospital setting, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact a member of our West Palm Beach medical negligence team today to discuss your case.