Every day, blood transfusions are happening all across the United States to save the life of a patient suffering from blood loss due to an injury or trauma, surgical procedure, or medical conditions such as Sickle Cell disease, certain cancers, anemia, and hemophilia.
A red blood cell transfusion can mean the difference between life and death for many patients who have lost a significant amount of their blood, and hospitals usually have the blood transfusion process well in hand. Still, there are occasions when an error occurs, and a patient is seriously injured or dies. If and when this happens, the victim may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or health care provider who made the error.
At Frischmann & Rizza in Pittsburgh, PA, our injury attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of medical malpractice, including injuries caused by blood transfusion reactions and errors. Whether it was whole blood transfusion, blood components like platelet transfusion or plasma transfusion, or bone marrow, our legal team will investigate the situation and determine if you have a medical malpractice case.
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What Are Blood Transfusions?
When individuals donate blood to blood banks, that donated blood is tested for infections and diseases, typed, and stored. Whenever there is a call for local donor blood cells, the hospital requests the donated blood according to the patient’s particular blood type, and it is sent over. Once the hospital receives the donation, they complete the blood transfusion by delivering it to the patient intravenously through an IV.
Significant losses of a patient’s blood need to be supplanted by the donated blood through a transfusion. Without a way to replace blood, the patient would likely die, so blood transfusions are life-saving procedures. Because they are done on such a frequent basis, the process is usually free from complications or injuries to the patient. It is an unfortunate reality, though, that sometimes errors occur during the red blood cell transfusions, and a patient is injured or killed in the process.
What Happens to Red Blood Cells When an Incompatibility Reaction Occurs?
One of the most important factors that need to be checked when transfused red blood cells are needed is the required blood type. Without the proper blood type, a patient’s body will have an incompatibility reaction, and the blood will be rejected.
The two types of reactions are Acute Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction (AHTR) and Delayed Hemolytic Reaction (DHTR). Both are quite serious, but the delayed reaction will take longer to manifest. Essentially, the body begins to attack its red cells during the reaction. If the cells are destroyed, the loss of red cells may cause a patient to be susceptible to blood clots, loss of blood supply to the internal organs resulting in damage, and the patient enduring a stroke. The immune system can also be affected if the proper type does not replace the lost blood.
Types of Donated Blood Transfusion Errors
In most situations, most blood transfusions are done properly, and there are no adverse reactions to the donor blood. However, sometimes errors do occur, and the patient suffers catastrophic injuries.
Some of the most common blood transfusion errors that we have dealt with at Frischmann & Rizza in Pittsburgh, PA, include:
- Administration errors
- Giving donor cells in the wrong part of the body
- Using the wrong type of needle
- Giving too much or too little donor blood
- Insufficient staff training at the hospital or health care provider’s office
- Misidentification of blood samples
- Mixing up patient records
- Preliminary assessment of medical records leads to the administration of the wrong blood type.
- Improper storage or labeling
- Transfused blood errors leading to injuries
- Administering infected blood (lack of disease control protocols) leads to the patient acquiring Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, and more.
- Iron overload
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Nerve damage
If these errors and injuries have occurred, your healthcare provider, doctor, or hospital could be held liable for your injuries (or the wrongful death of a loved one).
At Frischmann & Rizza, our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys have ample experience dealing with blood transfusion cases and are happy to discuss your case with you during a free consultation.
How to Determine If You Have a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The best way to determine if you may have a medical malpractice case because of blood transfusion errors that caused serious injuries is to contact a skilled personal injury law firm to discuss your situation.
In every medical malpractice case, a few things need to be proven to show that the doctor, nurse, healthcare provider, and hospital should be held liable for the injuries a patient suffered while under their direct care. This is also true for blood transfusions. These items include:
- A clear doctor-patient relationship existed, which means that a specific and accepted duty of care was expected
- The doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent in their duties to the patient
- The negligence directly resulted in the injury or death
- The injury or death led to specific, quantifiable damages and losses to the patient and their family
These factors are critical points that must be proven to have the basis of a medical malpractice case. If the blood transfusion error that led to your injuries qualified under these criteria, you might have a medical malpractice case.
Contact Our Pittsburgh, PA, Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence or recklessness during a blood transfusion, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice case in Pittsburgh, PA.
Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at Frischmann & Rizza to discuss the details of your situation and to determine if your circumstances qualify for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our legal team is here to fight for your rights as a patient and the compensation you deserve as a victim.
Call us now to schedule your free case evaluation!