Blood Transfusion Negligence Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by blood transfusion negligence, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.

Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove the negligence happened. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.

We can help you make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article

Introduction

Around 3 million blood transfusions take place every year in the UK.

Blood transfusions rarely involve blood being transfused "whole" from one person to another; instead donated blood is generally separated into red cells (the most common transfusion), platelets and plasma. Each of these types of transfusion may be used to treat different conditions.

Blood transfusions are generally very safe procedures and rarely result in clinical negligence claims.

However, if any patient has developed illness or sustained a physical or psychological injury as the result of a negligent transfusion, it may be possible to make a claim.

Lawyer and claimants

Do I have an injury claim?

Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:

  • there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
  • the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

Causation

To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.

Get an impartial opinion

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

Is compensation always payable?

If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".

Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.

Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.

What if I can't prove who caused the blood transfusion negligence?

Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your blood transfusion negligence claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.

Can I make a blood transfusion negligence claim right up to the three-year limit?

Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on a blood transfusion negligence claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.

How long do I have to start a claim?

If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.

It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for an injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the seriousness of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Calculate my injury compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a blood transfusion negligence claim take?

The time needed to get compensation for a blood transfusion negligence can vary considerably.

A straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim can settle in 12 to 24 months. If the case goes to court however, it could take longer. Usually, a medical negligence claim should take 12 to 36 months. See: How long will my claim take?

How else can a solicitor help me?

Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.

Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

Why are transfusions needed?

Although usually associated with replacing lost blood after a severe accident, major surgery or childbirth, blood transfusions may be necessary to treat patients who are severely anaemic or who have blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.

Patients with very low levels of platelets in their blood (thrombocytopenia) may require a platelet infusion. Conditions that may cause thrombocytopenia include cancers - such as leukaemia or lymphoma; chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation; chronic liver disease or cirrhosis; sepsis or severe infection.

What might go wrong with the procedure?

The UK has one of the safest blood supply chains in the world, with healthcare staff generally conducting their work using the safest and highest quality transfusion practices.

However, as with all procedures, mistakes may be made, which may have serious consequences for the patient.

Injuries resulting in compensation claims include:

  • A patient receiving contaminated blood
  • A patient receiving the wrong type of blood
  • Fluid overload

Contaminated Blood

Prior to donating, all potential blood donors are screened for risk of exposure to infection and all blood is subsequently laboratory tested for blood borne infections - including HIV, Hepatitis B and C - before being allowed into the system.

Donated blood must be kept sterile to prevent bacterial contamination developing. Platelet donations are particularly vulnerable to contamination as they need to be stored at room temperature.

A person receiving a transfusion of contaminated blood may develop symptoms of blood poisoning (sepsis).

If during the screening processes an infection is overlooked and a recipient contracts the infection through a blood transfusion it may be possible to bring a claim for tainted blood negligence.

The wrong blood type

To prevent patients being given the wrong type of blood, the recipient's blood must be tested immediately before transfusion takes place. A wristband showing the patient's blood type must also be checked before each new bag of blood is transfused.

Other mistakes that may be made during the transfusion process include blood being incorrectly labelled at the laboratory, or the patient being wrongly identified.

If a patient is given the wrong blood his immune system may react by attacking the blood cells. This is known as a haemolytic transfusion reaction (HTR).

HTRs may happen during or soon after transfusion, or may be delayed, happening a few days to a week after transfusion.

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Back pain
  • Bloody urine
  • Chills
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Fever
  • Flank pain
  • Flushing of the skin

Complications, which may have serious consequences for the recipient may include:

  • Acute kidney failure
  • Anaemia
  • Lung problems
  • Shock

As the list of "never events" published by the NHS in March 2015 includes all ABO-incompatible transfusions (all components), being given the wrong type of blood may be considered a result of medical negligence.

Fluid overload

In 2013 there were 34 cases of fluid overload due to blood transfusion reported in the UK. Occasionally, too much blood is transfused into the body in too short a time for the body to properly cope with it.

The excess fluid can result in the heart being unable to pump enough blood around the body (heart failure).

Too much fluid may cause swelling throughout the body or difficulty breathing.

More common in people who are elderly or frail, have serious health conditions such as heart disease or who have a lower body weight, fluid overload can be avoided by the recipient receiving the transfusion more slowly. They must be closely monitored.

A patient sustaining fluid overload through a transfusion being administered too quickly may be able to claim for clinical negligence.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.

Less than 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Read more:

Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

No win, no fee

'No win, no fee' means that if you do not win your injury claim, you will not have to pay any legal fees at all. Known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA', no win, no fee is an agreement between you and your solicitor.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?

If your injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How we can help you

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:

  • 8am to 9pm weekdays
  • 9am to 6pm on Saturday
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

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Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more:

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

I need the money now - what are my options?

If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor