Blood is the source through which oxygen becomes made available to organs and cells in the body. Without a blood supply, a human ceases to exist. As such, blood transfusions may be a necessity for patients who are undergoing invasive surgeries or therapy treatments.
It is important for patients to be aware of the risk of blood contamination and what it is. When blood is contaminated, the rest of the body can quickly develop infection. It can even result in death or the development of illnesses like AIDS and hepatitis in the worst instances.
The Causes of Blood Contamination
Blood contamination can be caused by a variety of factors. It can result when surgical instruments are not properly washed and cleaned prior to use in an operation. Blood can also be contaminated when it is stored in a blood bank if it is not adequately protected. It may be exposed to bacteria, and bacteria may then grow throughout the blood samples. Other causes of contaminated blood include improper completion of blood transfusions, improper screening of blood donors and the use of improper dialysis practices.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) also reports that there are some common causes of blood transfusion errors that result from paperwork and communication issues. A patient may not provide proper consent for a blood transfusion, or there may be incomplete verification of a patient’s ability to donate blood without infection. There may be errors in the labels of a patient’s specimen or blood sample. These factors can all lead to serious issues in the contamination of blood within a patient’s body.
Surgical Errors Involving Blood Work
During a surgery, a patient may also need a supply of blood that surgeons fail to provide. There are errors that can arise when a patient loses too much blood during an operation, and surgeons have failed to notice or provide a remedy. If a patient has to wait too long to receive the blood supply that he or she needs, then death may be inevitable for that patient. Doctors and nurses have a certain duty of care to meet in watching out for the safety of a patient during an operation, and it is vital that these individuals meet that standard.
Development of Bacterial Infection of Red Cells in Blood Transfusions
In the U.S. National Library of Medical Science, there is a research study entitled, “Bacterial Contamination of Blood Components.” This research study goes into an in-depth discussion of the source of infection in contaminated blood and is very informative. The research study indicates that over 13,898,000 units of blood are transfused to patients in the United States every year. The deaths that are reported to the FDA after a blood transfusion usually involve Yersinia enterocolitica. This illness is also prevalent in New Zealand and other countries in the world.
Blood contamination occurs when organisms make their way into donated blood. This can result from a lack if disinfection in the blood or lack of complete skin core removal. In some other countries, like Denmark and Sweden, blood contamination has occurred through the packaging method of the blood. Blood samples were put into clean outer plastic packages, but these tainted blood products were not actually sterile. The blood became contaminated through dust in the factory, and this ultimately increased the amount of moisture in the bag. The moisture then contributed to conditions that made bacteria able to grow and resulted in tainted blood products.
How Medical Professionals Should Reduce Risks of Post-Transfusion Blood Contamination
There are certain steps that professionals should take to reduce the likelihood of a patient experiencing blood contamination. One step that professionals can take is to conduct thorough donor screening to screen for a risk of infection. Another step that professionals can take is to engage in proper disinfection of the skin. The skin carries many bacterial organisms on it, and it is vital that professionals adequately clean skin before drawing blood.
Diverting the initial blood draw is also effective for cleansing blood. The researchers indicate in their study that diverting the first 10 to 30 ml of blood will improve the likelihood that it does not contain bacteria.Seeking Legal Help From Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for Your Illinois Blood Contamination Case
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of blood contamination, then you may have legal recourse available. The Illinois blood contamination attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will help you with these complicated medical issues and advise you of your legal rights. A blood contamination attorney will also help you in recovering the damages that you are entitled to receive as a result of this negligence.