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Blood Banking Expert Witnesses

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A blood bank is a cache or bank of blood or blood components gathered as a result of blood donation, stored and preserved for later use in blood transfusion. The term “blood bank” typically refers to a division of a hospital laboratory where blood product storage occurs, and proper testing is performed to reduce the risk of transfusion-related events.

Most hospital blood banks also perform testing to determine the blood type of patients and to identify compatible blood products for blood transfusions, along with a battery of tests (e.g., disease) and treatments (e.g., leukocyte filtration) to ensure and enhance quality. Some such procedures can be done “upstream” by the collecting agency or a contracted laboratory.

In the US, certain standards are set for the collection and processing of each blood product. “Whole blood” (WB) is the proper name for one defined product, specifically unseparated venous blood with an approved preservative added. Most blood for transfusion is collected as whole blood. Autologous donations (that is, the patient’s own blood banked for their own use, typically before planned surgery) are sometimes transfused without further modification; however, whole blood is typically separated (via centrifugation) into its components, with Red Blood Cells (RBC) in solution being a commonly used product. Units of WB and RBC are both kept refrigerated at 1-6 C, with maximum permitted storage periods (shelf lives) of 35 and 42 days, respectively.

What is blood bank or transfusion malpractice?

The increasingly recognized problem of inadequate efficacy of transfusion and post-transfusion complications raises the importance of quality testing and screening. U.S. hospitals spend more on dealing with the consequences of transfusion-related complications than on the combined costs of buying, testing/treating, and transfusing their blood.

Some examples of blood bank and transfusion malpractice include:

  • Failing to screen donated blood for infections and contamination appropriately.
  • Delays in giving blood or blood products to patients who need them.
  • Miscommunication regarding the source of a blood sample or a patient’s blood type.
  • Improper storage leading to contamination or mislabeling.

Transfusing blood into a patient with an incompatible blood type is a serious medical error that can lead to potentially deadly complications. When a patient’s antibodies destroy donor blood cells – a complication called a hemolytic transfusion reaction – the consequences can include anaphylactic shock, stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure. Contaminated blood can also transmit life-altering diseases like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Find the blood banking expert witness you need

Our medical experts are highly familiar with the standards of care in blood banking and transfusions. They can speak clearly and objectively about malpractice matters as consultants and in deposition or trial testimony. If you are considering a case involving blood banking or transfusion malpractice, contact us today for a free case summary review.

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