Blood transfusions provide many people with life-saving benefits. There are many reasons why a patient may need to undergo a blood transfusion, including anemia, bone marrow failure, or low hemoglobin. Transfusions may also be necessary if a patient suffered blood loss due to trauma, during heart or other organ transplant surgery, or for the treatment of diseases or cancers. Unfortunately, an error due to a blood transfusion can result in serious illness or death.
If precise safety standards are not adhered to, there are common blood transfusion errors that may occur, including:
- Failing to screen for diseases (including AIDS or hepatitis)
- Failing to obtain the patients informed consent for the transfusion
- Failing to recognize that a patient is experiencing an adverse reaction
- Multiple simultaneous transfusions
- Staff that are insufficiently or improperly trained
- Refrigerating or storing blood improperly
- Incorrectly labeling or blood typing
- Transfusing the wrong blood
Blood transfusions are usually performed using donated blood. Both the patient who will be receiving the blood and the donor are tested to be sure that their blood types are a match. Donated blood is also screened for blood-borne illnesses, such as HIV and AIDS. However blood products can still become contaminated. This tainted blood could be transmitted to a patient through improper storage, labeling, or handling.
A patient’s immune system may also refuse to accept foreign blood cells introduced into their body by a transfusion. An immune response will instinctively provide the body with protection from objects that could do it harm. Blood received through a transfusion needs to be compatible with the patient’s blood. As long as the blood is compatible, the patient’s body will not form antibodies against the blood received in the transfusion. Even though blood is properly screened before being administered, negligence can still occur and incompatible blood may still be used.
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