New York — A Brooklyn, NY hospital reported that a patient died after a hospital mistake led to the patient receiving the wrong blood type. They believe an error in blood typing in the hospital’s laboratory led to the deadly mistake. It was unclear as to why the mistake occurred but some patient safety advocates believe it may have been preventable. They say that human error is often responsible for medical mistakes. A top medical malpractice lawyer in New York City explained that sometimes errors like this occur when a nurse, doctor or phlebotomist don’t properly label blood sample tube at the bedside, as is protocol. Other times the slip up can occur in the lab when the technician improperly handles the blood sample. Investigators in the field note that it will be necessary to determine if the lab technician was fully trained to conduct the testing and to see if all of the medical equipment being used was inspected, calibrated correctly and in full working condition. They also say that this type of critical testing should be double-checked for accuracy due to the significant nature of such a transfusion error and the possibility of a mix up. Pending further investigation into this suspected medical malpractice episode, the hospital has been directed to send all blood transfusion testing and work to outside lab facilities. The hospital is currently sending the blood testing to another hospital in Brooklyn. Doctors explain that when a patient receives the wrong blood type, the body sees the blood transfusion as an invader and therefore reacts to the dangerous situation quickly. This leaves nurses and doctors precious little time to recognize the mistake and try life saving intervention. According to activists, it will also be necessary to determine if the hospital staff missed the diagnosis when the patient’s condition started to deteriorate, compounding the medical error. See this article for more information about the fatal blood transfusion mistake at the hospital.
Photo by U.S. Navy photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons