Blood Transfusion Errors and Injuries
New Jersey Blood Transfusion Malpractice Lawyers
In the United States every year, approximately 5 million people undergo blood transfusions, the majority of which are associated with surgery, disease, or accidents. While some transfusions save lives in an emergency, others may be scheduled with surgery or disease treatment. If a patient can plan for surgery, they want to choose the safest blood, specifically their own. However, that takes preparation and a scheduled operation or treatment. If the individual needs blood quickly to save their life, then they must rely on blood banks or individual donors to supply the vital blood components for their survival or recovery. When a person’s blood is missing vital components, they may be up against a time crunch. In these precarious situations, doctors must act immediately, taking any and all necessary measures to ensure that the blood transfusion does not cause more harm than good.
While most blood transfusions proceed smoothly without lasting negative effects, some cases do turn tragic. If you suspect errors occurred with your blood transfusion or that of someone you love, you certainly may have legitimate questions about what went wrong. Likewise, if you or a loved one was harmed by a blood transfusion, having your case investigated by an experienced malpractice lawyer who works with leading medical experts, can provide you with the answers you need. When blood transfusion errors occur in New Jersey and you suffer injuries, your health care providers may be liable for your monetary losses and other suffering. Whether doctors, nurses, or hospital staff negligently prepared for or performed the procedure, the skilled attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group will aggressively advocate for you. To discuss your unique case with a New Jersey blood transfusion malpractice lawyer, call (973)-435-4551 today.
What is a Blood Transfusion?
In simple terms, a blood transfusion is blood replenishment, especially after blood loss from illness, injury, or deficiencies. For instance, perhaps your blood is missing one of the essential components of red cells, white cells, plasma, and platelets. A blood transfusion may consist of restoring the missing component, like platelets. A whole blood transfusion replaces all four components, which is rarer than specific replacements. For example, some cancer treatments destroy platelets while other diseases deplete the body of plasma, which is critical for blood clotting. A treating physician may order a complete blood count (CBC) to identify what is missing or a coagulation test to verify whether a blood transfusion may help to abate a patient’s symptoms. If the person needs one, they should plan to spend about four hours at the hospital or doctor’s office receiving a transfusion by intravenous line.
Why would a Person need a Blood Transfusion?
Although reasonably time-consuming, blood transfusions may be necessary after major surgery with significant blood loss. These vital procedures may also aid in the treatment of:
- Internal bleeding conditions, like ulcers
- Diseases that damage blood components, such as leukemia or anemia
- Effects of cancer treatments, after radiation or chemotherapy
- Blood disorders
- Liver disease.
A blood transfusion can be profoundly beneficial, but the procedure is not without inherent risks, including mismatched blood, adverse reactions, and tainted blood contagions. To prevent the body’s rejection of the blood through transfusion, careful blood type matching is critical: A, B, AB, or O and Rh factor positive or negative. Since more than one-third of the population has O type blood, people with O blood are considered universal donors and AB types are universal recipients, which is important to know when relatives or friends donate blood.
Possible Complications from Blood Transfusions
Mismatched blood typing, among other occurrences and human errors, creates significant risks for complications. One complication of a transfusion is fever, which may be considered normal depending on the circumstances. However, fever with nausea and chest pains is atypical and could suggest a serious condition known as acute immune hemolytic reaction. This complication occurs when the body rejects the incoming red blood cells and can happen all at once or over time. Other risks of blood transfusions are allergic reactions to the incoming blood, characterized by itchiness and hives. If severe, the person may experience an anaphylactic reaction, with symptoms like shortness of breath, face and throat swelling, and lowered blood pressure.
Other complications include acute lung injury associated with transfusion, which is often fatal. It begins with fever and low blood pressure due to foreign bodies in the blood, including antibodies, which damage the lungs. In addition, an excess of iron after several transfusions may damage organs in a condition called hemochromatosis. Further, those with low immunity may suffer a rare condition called graft-vs-host disease, characterized by a dangerous reaction in which white blood cells damage the bone marrow. Lastly, infections like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, West Nile virus, Zika virus, and other blood-borne viruses or infections may be transmitted through blood donations.
As a precaution, an antibodies test should be run before transfusion to eliminate some of the complication risks. Blood typing is done first, followed by cross-match testing to ensure compatibility. This should be followed by the antibodies test and cytomegalovirus testing for those who have not had this common virus since the virus can erode the immune system, causing serious illness to the blood recipient if transmitted.
What if Blood Transfusion Errors Occur in New Jersey?
Blood transfusion complications can temporarily or permanently harm a patient, sometimes even leading to death. While some mistakes happen in emergency contexts, many transfusion injuries and fatalities can be avoided with diligent testing and strict protocols governing the handling, transport, and delivery of blood and blood products within medical establishments. Physicians, nurses, technicians, and hospitals owe a duty of due care to ensure that their medical practices do not harm patients. Despite this, errors with blood transfusions happen to individuals in New Jersey and the United States all too often, some of which result in wrongful death and severe, long-lasting complications.
If you believe that your blood transfusion injury could have been avoided with proper medical care, be sure to speak to a knowledgeable New Jersey medical malpractice attorney at Fronzuto Law Group to further understand the sequence of events and your available legal avenues. If malpractice occurred before, during, or after you received blood, you may be entitled to compensation for your past and future medical care, as well as other economic and non-economic damages that you suffered. Contact us anytime at (973)-435-4551 for a free consultation.
- Getting a Blood Transfusion, American Cancer Society
- About Blood Transfusion, MayoClinic
- Blood Transfusion, National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute
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