About two million people receive life-saving platelet transfusions every year, and more than twice that many receive transfusions of whole blood. Although blood donation centers and hospitals take steps to ensure a safe blood supply, sometimes simple yet important safety measures are overlooked, resulting in hundreds of adverse reactions and preventable deaths each year due to contaminated blood. The actual number of adverse reactions and deaths are actually much higher than what’s reported. At The Nurse Attorney, PLLC, medically and legally trained attorney Marjorie Chalfant, RN, JD has the knowledge and experience necessary to evaluate a blood or platelet transfusion case and pursue justice on behalf of patients and loved ones harmed by patient safety violations. Contact nurse-attorney Marjorie Chalfant today to get started with investigation and prosecution of your case.  She is an experienced attorney with successful representation of patients and family members harmed by contaminated blood & platelet transfusions.

Facts about platelet transfusions

Whole blood is comprised mainly of red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Platelets are the sticky, disc-shaped components of blood that enable blood to stick together or clot and are therefore essential to prevent excessive bleeding. Platelet transfusions are a necessary part of many types of surgeries and medical procedures, including acute trauma care, cancer treatment, open-heart surgery, burns and wound care, and bone marrow transplants.

Donated platelets represent the number one risk of infection in the U.S. blood supply. Whole blood donations are refrigerated until they are needed, allowing them to stay fresh and sterile for a longer period of time. Platelets, however, lose their clotting ability if they are refrigerated, so they must be kept at room temperature. Platelets can be stored at room temperature for up to five days before they are deemed unsafe to use, but bacteria can be present and growing in platelet donations long before then. For instance, if the donor had a low-grade infection at the time of donation, then bacteria will likely be present in the donation. Also, if the skin was not properly cleaned before injecting the needle, surface bacteria is likely to be drawn into the donated sample. These bacteria will continue to grow and multiply in the sample, creating the likelihood that blood poisoning (sepsis) will develop in the patient receiving the donated platelets.

Hospitals need to test for platelet contamination

Standard tests performed by blood banks miss the majority of contaminated platelets. The blood bank may culture and test for the presence of bacteria within 24 to 48 hours after the donation, but levels may be too low for detection that early. A safer and more reliable check is for the hospital or blood bank to test the platelets for bacterial contamination just prior to transfusion. The technology to perform this check is not new; in fact, the FDA approved a rapid test decades ago. Unfortunately, adding this test adds costs to the hospital’s budget, and some hospitals and blood banks choose to forego this potentially life-saving measure in order to improve their financial bottom line.

Other serious blood transfusion risks include the possibility of transmission of the HIV or Hepatitis C virus, but the risk of infection and illness from bacteria-contaminated platelets is actually much higher.

You Deserve to Have Your Transfusion Claim Evaluated by Experienced Medical & Legal Professionals

At The Nurse Attorney, PLLC, Marjorie Chalfant has successfully pursued litigation against hospitals and blood banks for the tragic consequences from a contaminated blood or platelet transfusions. If you believe you or a family member has been harmed by an unsafe blood or platelet transfusion at any facility in Florida, please contact Marjorie Chalfant, RN, JD for a free consultation.