A Michigan medical malpractice trial began earlier this week in a case where the plaintiff alleges that a hospital mixed up her blood with another patient’s blood that led her to be transfused with the wrong blood-type, causing her serious injuries. The Michigan medical malpractice trial against the defendant local hospital is expected to last between six and seven days.
The woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in September 2013 and alleges that she went to the defendant hospital on June 23, 2011 in order to have her blood drawn for laboratory tests. She alleges that the medical technician employed by the defendant hospital mishandled her blood draw with the blood draw of another patient, which resulted in the hospital erroneously determining that the plaintiff’s blood type was A-positive whereas her actual blood type was O-positive. As a result of the medical error, the woman received a transfusion of A-positive blood, after which she had symptoms consistent with receiving incompatible blood.
Despite evidence that the wrong blood was being transfused into the plaintiff, the hospital staff performed a second blood transfusion on the second day, again using with the wrong blood type. The plaintiff then suffered respiratory arrest due to the medical error, from which the hospital medical staff was able to revive her and transferred her in critical condition to the hospital’s intensive care unit. She was subsequently airlifted to another Michigan hospital, where she remained an inpatient for three weeks. Her Michigan medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that she suffered kidney and lung failure as a result of the hospital’s negligence.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH), there are four blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, everyone’s blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. If the wrong blood type is used during transfusion, antibodies in the blood will attack the new blood, which can be fatal.
About 40% of the population has type O blood (called “universal donors”), which is safe for almost everyone. People with type AB blood are called “universal recipients” and can receive any type of blood.
Rh factor is a protein on red blood cells: people who have Rh factor are Rh-positive and people without Rh factor are referred to as Rh-negative. Rh factor is inherited and most people are Rh-positive. People with Rh-positive blood can receive Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood but people with Rh-negative blood should receive only Rh-negative blood (Rh-negative blood is used for emergencies when there is no time to test for Rh type).
Rh incompatibility may be a concern for women who are pregnant because the baby’s blood can cross into the mother’s bloodstream, especially during delivery. If the mother is Rh-negative and the baby is Rh-positive, the mother’s body will react to the baby’s blood as a foreign substance. The mother’s body will create antibodies against her baby’s Rh-positive blood, which usually do not cause problems during a first pregnancy because the baby often is born before many of the antibodies develop. However, the antibodies remain in the mother’s body once formed and therefore Rh incompatibility is more likely to cause problems in second or later pregnancies if the baby is Rh-positive (the Rh antibodies can cross the placenta and attack the baby’s red blood cells, which can lead to hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them and may be fatal to the baby, if severe).
If you or a loved one received the wrong blood type during a transfusion and suffered harm, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your possible medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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