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Blood transfusion negligence can cause serious conditions like infections or immune reactions due to mismatched or contaminated blood products.

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.

You can make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.

With over 13,000 clinical negligence claims a year, you're not alone

Every year, around 2.5 million units of blood are transfused in the United Kingdom.

During these procedures, donated blood is usually separated into red cells (the most common type of transfusion), platelets, and plasma. Each component is used to treat different medical conditions.

Many people will have concerns about the blood transfusions, especially with the contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 80s continuing to make headlines 40 years later.

Blood transfusions are generally safe, however clinical errors do still occur.

13,511 new clinical negligence claims were referred to NHS Resolution in 2022/23 (resolution.nhs.uk).

If you experience an illness or suffer physical or psychological harm due to a negligent transfusion, you might have grounds to make a clinical negligence claim. In such cases, a medical negligence solicitor can guide you through the entire claims process, providing support until your claim is successfully resolved and appropriate compensation is secured.

Am I eligible for blood transfusion negligence compensation?

To claim compensation for blood transfusion negligence, your solicitor must prove that:

  • the care provided to you was below the acceptable standard, and
  • this inadequate care resulted in your harm.

Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.

How long do I have to claim blood transfusion negligence compensation?

You usually have 3 years to make a blood transfusion negligence claim, from the date you learned you were harmed by the substandard care (the date of knowledge).

For an injured child, the three-year limitation period begins on their 18th birthday, giving them until they are 21 to start a medical negligence claim.

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.

How much compensation can I claim for a blood transfusion 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.

Blood transfusion negligence compensation calculator

Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

Updated April 2024 Compensation Calculator v3.04

General damages

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

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

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

Special damages

Special damages are awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include loss of earnings, or any other out of pocket expenses.

Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your blood transfusion injury, including corrective treatment and psychological support.

Read more:

A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

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.

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 in too short a time for the to properly cope with it.

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

Too much fluid may cause swelling throughout the 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 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.

Clinical negligence claims

Blood transfusion negligence is usually categorised as clinical negligence. Click on the icon below for more information.

No win, no fee blood transfusion negligence compensation claims

With no win, no fee, you can claim blood transfusion negligence compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

Get expert advice now

Interested in talking to a medical negligence specialist about your claim?

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Citations

Source: (reviewed: 12/12/2023)

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor