New Studies Highlight the Potential Dangers of Blood Transfusions
Two recent medical studies are calling attention to the potential dangers of blood transfusions, which are common procedures within the medical community. The process generally involves the infusion of blood components into the bloodstream and is used to address a variety of medical complications. According to reports, about 30 million blood transfusions took place within the United States during 2011. Of that number, about half took place during a surgical procedure. When patients undergo blood transfusions, they trust their physicians to make accurate decisions and proceed in an adequate manner. When that does not occur, the resulting injuries can prove fatal.
News Medical is reporting that the January issue of the medical journal “Anesthesiology” will contain studies about two health complications caused by blood transfusions. Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI) and Transfusion-Associated Circulatory Overload (TACO) are the leading causes of blood transfusion-related deaths in the country. TRALI results when the lungs fill with fluid after a transfusion. TACO occurs when patients experience an overload of fluid following a transfusion, causing the heart to fail.
According to the reports, researchers found a significant level of under-reporting for both of the conditions. The first study concluded that TRALI occurs in 1.4% of surgical patients. The frequency increases for surgeries involving major blood vessels or organ transplants. It also increases with large quantities of transferred blood.
Researchers in the second study concluded that TACO is generally on the decline. However, the risk to surgical patients remains relatively high, with an occurrence rate of 4.3%. The total amount of transferred blood, the age of the patient and the type of surgery all reportedly affect the frequency of TACO occurring.
TRALI vs. TACO
TRALI is potentially deadly if not diagnosed and treated in time. It reportedly develops during or shortly after the transfusion. Physicians should look for the rapid onset of fever and low blood pressure. The patient may also reportedly exhibit a shortness of breath. Proper treatment may reportedly involve respiratory support, including the usage of a ventilation machine.
TACO is also potentially deadly without timely treatment. Patients may exhibit shortness of breath and edema in the body’s extremities. TACO differs from TRALI in that it causes the blood pressure to quickly increase, while TRALI causes a significant decrease. Close monitoring of blood transfusion patients is essential for the treatment of TACO, but according to reports, it is also preventable by lowering the amount of blood components and administering them at a slower pace.
Aside from the potential onset of these conditions, physicians may err during blood transfusions by administering the incorrect blood type. They may also give transfusions unnecessarily or use improper techniques, like administering the blood too quickly. When blood transfusion errors occur, the results can be deadly. With the assistance of an experienced lawyer, victims and their loved ones can secure the compensation they deserve.
If you or a loved one has experienced a blood transfusion-related injury, contact the Miami legal team of Pita Weber & Del Prado for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call us at 305-670-2889 to begin working on your case.