A Guide to Claiming Blood Transfusion Negligence Compensation

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

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered blood transfusion negligence and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

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 a blood transfusion negligence 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 a blood transfusion negligence claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

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

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

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.

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 blood transfusion negligence?

The amount of money you could claim for your blood transfusion negligence will depend on:

  • the extent 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 blood transfusion negligence has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

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 a blood transfusion negligence? (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 a blood transfusion negligence claim?

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

However, the money you would receive following a blood transfusion negligence will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

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

See the injury table above for some examples.

Blood transfusion negligence compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a blood transfusion negligence 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 blood transfusion negligence claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a blood transfusion negligence claim take?

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

For instance, 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?

Will I still be able to claim for a blood transfusion negligence after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your blood transfusion negligence claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to 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.

No win, no fee

'No win, no fee' means that if you do not win your blood transfusion negligence 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 a blood transfusion negligence claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my blood transfusion negligence 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 blood transfusion negligence claim?

If your blood transfusion negligence 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 do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your blood transfusion negligence claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

Is there a catch?

The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, 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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Blood transfusion negligence 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 about claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 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 held in front of a judge, not a jury.

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

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

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?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert