Improper Blood Transfusions
An estimated 5 million people will require a blood transfusion each year in the United States. Blood transfusions take healthy blood (or blood components) from a donor and gives it to a patient who needs additional. Transfusions are used to a treat a number of conditions, including emergency situations in which the patient has lost a large amount of blood. Blood transfusions may also be used for people with sickle-cell diseases, for infants with Rh incompatibility, or for the treatment of other blood-related illnesses. Doctors are responsible for ensuring that blood transfusions are performed correctly and safely. Before a patient can receive donated blood, the blood type must be carefully assessed to make sure it is a match. In addition, donated blood must be carefully screened for disease. There have been cases in which a person contracted AIDS or another illness from improperly transfused blood. Fortunately, over the past few years, the risks of contracting life-threatening pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C from donor blood have been dramatically diminished. Yet another risk remains – the actual transfusion of blood itself.
The Federal Drug Administration estimates that approximately 400 blood transfusion errors occur annually. Incredibly, many of these errors are related to mistakes regarding labeling, where the blood is labeled with the incorrect blood type. Other mistakes involve confusing one patient’s blood sample with another patient’s sample, resulting in transfusion of the wrong blood.
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