By Jo Anderson. Last updated 3rd August 2023. Giving blood is an activity that most may see as lifesaving, and while blood transfusions may save lives, they can sometimes go wrong. Negligence in blood transfusions can lead to the use of incompatible or contaminated blood. For those who have been the victim of such negligence, it may be possible to make a negligent blood transfusion claim.
Blood transfusion negligence claims can be made if you have been given contaminated blood or received incompatible blood or have been given a transfusion without consent or in error that resulted in you contracting HIV, Hepatitis A, B or C, or caused you to suffer an adverse reaction. In circumstances where provable medical negligence occurred, you may have grounds to make a claim. Issues arising from a negligent blood transfusion could vary in severity from a minor reaction to life-threatening.
All claims for medical negligence have a statutory time limit in which they have to be made, known as a limitation period. This is three years from the date of the accident. It’s therefore important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Below, you’ll find a guide to give you information on making a claim for injuries resulting from a negligent blood transfusion and have included information on the types of blood transfusion accidents, the effects they can have on a person, what makes you eligible to make a claim, and also a compensation calculator. If you cannot find what you are looking for here, or have any further questions, our advisors are waiting to answer your call. Contact us today on 0800 073 8801 or you can arrange a time for us to call you by completing our online contact form.
Select A Section
- What Is A Negligent Blood Transfusion?
- How Do Negligent Blood Transfusions And Contamination Happen?
- Claims For Incompatible Blood Transfusions
- Claims For Contaminated Blood Transfusions
- What Could Happen If Someone Received Blood With The Wrong Rhesus Rf Factor?
- Eligibility To Make A Negligent Blood Transfusion Claims
- Negligent Blood Transfusion Claim Payouts
- Special Damages In Blood Transfusion Claims
- No Win No Fee Negligent Blood Transfusion Claims
- Essential References
As outlined above, blood transfusions may be used to treat people who have experienced severe blood loss, or who have conditions that require a regular transfusion. The blood used must match the person’s blood type and be free of contaminants. In some cases, however, negligence results in contaminated blood transfusions, or the use of incompatible blood.
When a person receives the wrong type of blood, they can have serious reactions including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, rapid blood pressure changes, shock and other symptoms. For those who are exposed to viruses in contaminated blood, they could develop HIV, Hepatitis A, B or C, or other blood-borne illnesses. This may also be accompanied by the psychological trauma of the experience and resulting injuries.
Blood transfusion negligence can happen when a medical professional fails in their duty of care to a patient. This could happen in various ways, such as a transfusion of incompatible blood, a transfusion made by mistake, or a transfusion made without the consent of the patient that resulted in complications. Although it might be rare, blood transfusion claims have been made where a patient was given the wrong blood type by a medical professional who failed to check compatibility, or because the medical professional mixed up or mislabelled the samples when taking more than one at a time.
Those supplying and handling the collection of blood, or the production of blood products, also have a duty of care to ensure that no contaminated blood or blood products are not used on patients. In these cases what may happen is a failure to correctly screen the blood or products for contaminants, resulting in harm to those treated with them.
To look more closely at incompatible blood type transfusions, we have included this extra section. Different from cases of contaminated blood, being given the wrong type can result in a wide range of complications. Among them, is something called an ‘ABO incompatibility reaction’, which is essentially your blood’s antigens recognising the other blood as foreign and attacking the incompatible blood. This could result in blood clots in your veins and arteries, causing a wide range of issues including a stroke or heart failure, kidney failure, breathing difficulties, jaundice and other conditions.
It may be possible to make a blood transfusion claim if there is proof that the person who treated you demonstrated medical negligence in your blood transfusion. You must also be able to demonstrate that your condition would not have occurred if not for the negligent blood transfusion. Crucially, it may need to be proven that another equally well qualified, experienced medical practitioner would not have committed the same error.
It may be possible to claim compensation for tainted blood administered during a transfusion. When this happens, it could be caused by the suppliers or producers of the blood, failing to sufficiently screen the blood and products before dispatching them for use or failing to produce it according to expected safety standards. It may be possible for blood to be contaminated through poor handling, but also for it to contain blood-borne diseases from the donor who gave it. These illnesses can include hepatitis A, B and C as well as HIV and other viruses.
As we will outline below, there have been significant cases of contaminated blood making its way into British hospitals. Due to the impact a contaminated blood transfusion can have on a person’s life, there has been a government-led scheme in place to help support those who have contracted Hepatitis C and HIV from a blood transfusion while being treated by the NHS before September 1991.
There could be many repercussions when a person is treated with the wrong blood type. In cases where negligence in blood transfusions result in a person receiving blood with the wrong Rhesus or Rh factor, the consequences could be significant. Take, for example, ‘Mr X’, who had an illness such as anaemia that required him to have regular transfusions. His blood type was O Rh+ and in one particular transfusion, he was mistakenly given blood of the type B Rh-.
Not all blood transfusion claims are the same, but Mr X’s story might serve as an example of how errors or negligence in administering blood transfusions could change a person’s life.
If you are considering making a claim for injuries resulting from a negligent blood transfusion, there may be certain criteria that you must meet before you can proceed. These include claims for negligent blood transfusions, claims for use of contaminated blood used in a transfusion, as well as claims for issues caused by transfusions administered in error or without prior permission from the patient.
In cases of blood transfusion negligence where a hospital failed in their duty of care, you may need to provide evidence that they worked below the expected standards and that their negligence was the cause of your resulting condition. Establishing medical negligence may require a solicitor to prove that another medical professional of similar qualifications and experience would not have acted in the same way.
In cases where the negligent blood transfusion has taken place in an NHS Trust hospital, your case would be taken against the NHS Trust, and in cases where you were being treated in a private hospital, the case would be pursued against them.
If your blood transfusion compensation claim is successful, you could receive general damages and special damages as part of your settlement.
General damages is the head of claim that compensates you for the harm you have endured due to a medical professional breaching their duty of care. Solicitors and other legal professionals could refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) when calculating general damages in blood transfusion error compensation claims. The JCG gives guideline payout amounts for different types of harm.
In the table below, you can see some figures from the 16th edition of the JCG. However, you should only use this table as a guide.
|Type of Harm
|Lung Disease (c)
|£54,830 to £70,030
|A disease, such as emphysema, that significantly worsens the lungs functions and impairs breathing
|Lung Disease (d)
|£31,310 to £54,830
|Breathing problems, with the person need to use an inhaler frequently.
|Up to £63,980
|A significant risk of a future urinary tract infection or total loss of the kidneys natural function.
|£30,770 to £44,880
|The loss of one kidney with no damage to the other.
|£20,800 to £26,290
|The spleen is lost and there is a continuing risk of internal infections and disorders due to damage to the immune system.
|£4,350 to £8,640
|Where there are minimal risks of internal infections or disorders.
To learn more about how compensation is calculated in medical negligence claims, you can contact our advisors.
In a successful blood transfusion compensation claim, the main factors that could affect the overall amount awarded will be the pain and suffering directly caused by your injuries and condition following a negligent blood transfusion or illness from contaminated blood. The compensation that covers this aspect of the claim is known as general damages.
Some cases can also include another head of claim known as special damages. This is designed to compensate you for the losses, both past and future, and any expenses incurred as a result of your injuries.
Special damages might include:
- Loss of earnings that were incurred because you missed work while recovering, or where you have been forced to find work with less pay or hours to suit the needs of your condition. You might also claim for future loss of earnings if your condition prevents you from working in the future
- Travel costs incurred in your recovery attending medical appointments. You could also claim for travel costs incurred from going to legal meetings or appointments relating to your case
- Medical costs that have accrued during your recovery which can include prescriptions, sessions for mental health counselling, or physiotherapy sessions
If you have any other questions about what costs might be included in a blood transfusion negligence claim, don’t hesitate to contact us today.
When people think about making a medical negligence claim they might worry about being able to afford the upfront costs of solicitors, or they may worry about how much the entire process might cost. Here at Accident Claims UK, we handle claims on a No Win No Fee basis.
No Win No Fee means that if your solicitor does not win your case, you may not have to cover their legal fees. We don’t charge any upfront costs, and all possible fees may be discussed and agreed upon before you proceed with a claim. If your case is successful, a small contribution to your solicitor’s fees may be deducted from the compensation you are awarded. The amount of this deduction is legally capped.
Whether you have decided to pursue a claim for contaminated blood or transfusion negligence, or you are simply looking for more information, our passionate and informed advisers are here and ready to take your call. You can reach us on 0800 073 8801. If you would prefer to have us call you, please use our useful online contact form to arrange a time for a call back. Whichever way you choose to get in touch, we’d be more than happy to assist you.
We hope that this guide has given you the information you need, and we have also included some extra resources that you may find useful.
Clinical And Medical Negligence Claims Guide – See our online guide to claiming if you have been the victim of clinical or medical negligence.
Medical Negligence Leading To Death Compensation Claim Amounts – This is our online guide to claiming the loss of a loved one as a result of medical negligence.
Can I Claim For GP/Doctor Negligence Compensation? – See this online guide for information on the process of claiming against your GP or doctor for medical negligence.
The Infected Blood Enquiry – This Hepatitis C Trust article gives more information on the NHS infected blood enquiry.
Blood Transfusions – The NHS guide gives further information on what blood transfusions are and what they are used for.
Support For Victims Of Blood Transfusion Errors
Contaminated Blood Support Schemes – See this article from The Hepatitis C Trust outlining support groups available for those who have contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion.
Thank you for reading about how to make a negligent blood transfusion claim. For free advice on how to start your claim, why not get in touch today?