Blood transfusions are supposed to be life saving medical treatments for people who suffer from severe blood loss after trauma, or who need immediate intervention for acute anemia.  In the past, fears over a tainted blood created mass fear over the state of the blood supply.  Kansas City residents and others across the country should be able to trust the blood transfusion they are given in the middle of a medical emergency.

But unfortunately, mistakes are sometimes made and that transfusion can have the opposite effect.  Sometimes, the mistakes can be deadly.  More than a dozen people die each year as a result of bad reactions to blood transfusions.  The reaction is known as Acute Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction, and usually takes place within a short time after a transfusion is given.  The symptoms include fever and chills, back pain, and can continue until kidney failure sets in.  Essentially, the blood is attacked as a foreign substance and rejected.  The most common reason this affects patience?  Generally, this tragic condition occurs when mistakes are made and the wrong blood type is administered to the patient.  Certain errors lead to the administration of the wrong blood type to the wrong patient.  Most of these mistakes are clerical in nature.  The following reasons for blood transfusion reaction have been identified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

1.       Verification of patient blood transfusion incomplete

2.      Early symptoms of transfusion reaction missed

3.      No lab consent for the transfusion

4.      Too many samples cross matched simultaneously, or handlers stating a match occurred before the sample was ever received

5.      Lack of skills and training in staff members

6.      Too much blood stored in the same refrigerator

7.      Communication breakdown among healthcare staff

In some cases too much time passes before a physician orders a transfusion for a patient in need.  When too much time is allowed to pass for a patient in need of a transfusion, the delay can significantly raise the risk of death from blood loss.


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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.