Contaminated Blood Transfusions

Humans must have a blood supply to exist. Blood is venue to which all organs and cells in the body receive its oxygen. There are many reasons that a person may need a transfusion of blood in order to survive. Unfortunately, there are times when stored blood becomes contaminated. If a person receives a contaminated blood transfusion, the entire body will develop infection without treatment. In the worst cases, patients can develop diseases like AIDS and hepatitis or even die.

People need blood transfusions for a variety of reasons. Someone in a car accident who has lost a lot of blood would need a transfusion. There are also human conditions that require a regular transfusion of blood. There are thousands of people each day who receive blood transfusions from blood donors and despite to common occurrence of this medical procedure, serious mistakes are made consistently.

Blood transfusions can occur by any number of ways. Contaminations at the blood bank, for instance can happen and pollute all the blood in the facility. Unhygienic phlebotomy practices are another way blood transfusions can be contaminated. Tainted surgical instruments, inadequate screening of blood donors and dialysis treatments can all be potential sources of contaminated blood.

If surgical instruments are not properly sanitized before use in a blood transfusion or operation they can contaminate the blood used. Blood contaminated in a blood bank could have come in contact with bacteria which grows in the stored blood. Improperly screened blood donors can have diseases they do not know they are carrying and donate blood carrying the disease. Contaminated blood can even occur as a result of communication and book-keeping issues.

Healthcare professionals have precautions in place to reduce contamination instances. One of the most important is the screening of donors to make sure they carry no disease. Another step that is often underestimated is the washing and proper disinfection of the skin of both the phlebotomist and the patient. The skin constantly has bacterial organisms on it. Adequately cleaning the skin before drawing blood reduces the risk of infection and blood contamination. Diverting the blood flow at the onset can also go a long way in preventing contamination. Research has shown diverting as little as the first 10 to 30 ml of blood can help to deter bacterial contamination.

Before a victim of a contaminated blood transfusion can file a lawsuit, they must submit to the state’s bureaucratic regulations for that type of law suit. It may include obtaining an affidavit of a competent healthcare professional, and/or compliance to compulsory arbitration.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that serious impediments of blood transfusions can include allergic reaction, infection with diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV or Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), iron overload, hemolytic reaction and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) but these complications are rare. More commonly, problems arise from a delay in giving required blood. Blood loss can be spotted by digital and sonar imaging, vital signs, lab values and/or estimating blood loss during surgery.