A blood transfusion is where blood that has been taken from somebody’s body is placed into another persons body when being treated in a hospital either in an emergency procedure, during a planned operation, during an organ transplant and also sometimes replacing blood that is lost during child birth.

The blood is collected from the donor and stored in the blood bank. It is usually separated out into red blood cells, blood plasma and platelets so that only the relevant part is used and makes blood donations go further.

The blood service will only take blood from healthy people and there are a list of things they check with donors before they take blood and furthermore they will test blood in their labs for things like Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-C and HIV before the blood is stored in the blood bank until it is needed.

Blood transfusions are wonders of the modern medical era that save many lives each year and generally things go well but there are times when medical negligence means that a blood transfusion has an adverse affect on the patient.

When Can A Patient Claim For Medical Negligence?

The types of scenario where patients may be able to make a claim for medical negligence in regards blood transfusions include:

  • Receiving blood that is infected with a disease

When the NHS blood service collects blood from donors they ask certain eligiblity questions. Checks include: recent treatments received, any medication taken prior to donation, travelling outside of the UK, if the patient has had a tattoo recently, if the donor has become pregnant since their last donation, been diagnosed with cancer or illness or if the donor has received blood themselves recently.

On top of this the blood service laboratory will check the blood for disease in their laboratories. Even though the blood is checked some disease’s don’t show up if the donor has recently contracted the disease so even though lots of checks are made there is a risk of mistakes being made.

With all of these checks you could assume that a blood donation will be safe and therefore if the blood that’s given is infected with disease then there is a good chance of compensation for medical negligence due to the blood transfusion.

Being Given The Wrong Blood Type

When blood is collected by the NHS blood service it is stored by it’s blood type.

Blood types can never be mixed. When a patient arrives in hospital either as an emergency patient in A&E or as an inpatient for a planned operation their blood type is checked as part of standard procedure and a wristband is placed on the patient to be checked before any blood transfusion takes place.

Even with these safety measures mistakes can still happen and patients can receive the incorrect blood type. Incorrect blood types entering into the body can cause a massive reaction by the immune system which is very serious and can be fatal in some cases.

Blood Transfusion Negligence Claim Time Limits

If a patient believes they’ve been caused injury because of a negligent blood transfusion then there are strict time limits, laid out in law, for making a claim for compensation. Any claims must be made within 3 years of the patient finding out or realising that they were caused an injury.

Will The Claim Be Upheld?

A patient, or their legal team, need to prove that any injury or disease they are claiming for was caused by the blood transfusion itself and not the existing condition or injury that led to the transfusion in the first place.

With regards to new disease this should be quite straightforward for an experienced medical negligence solicitor to prove and therefore the claim for compensation will be upheld.

It is important with medical negligence claims of any time to prove that the negligence caused an injury but more importantly that it was caused by a breach of duty of care i.e. a medical professional has done something that you could reasonably expect them not to do (such as not read the blood type label on the patients wristband).