Patient given wrong blood type at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Posted by Samantha Ward on

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I was alarmed to read about  this so called 'never event' having occurred last month.

The article also reports an incident at the same Trust where a patient was given an unnecessary angiogram, a relatively high risk procedure where a cardiac catheter is threaded through a vessel in the groin, to the heart in order to visualise the coronary arteries to check for blockages.

Both incidents are currently under internal investigation. Having administered many blood transfusions over the course of my career in nursing I am always amazed when I hear about easily preventable, potentially fatal, errors such as this.  

Before a patient receives a blood transfusion, a blood sample is taken, after checking the patient's details, and the sample is labelled.  The sample is 'grouped and saved'; the correct blood type is established and the donated blood of the appropriate type is labelled specifically for that patient.

Once the blood is available, the doctor or nurse who is to administer the blood transfusion, and a registered colleague, should check the labelled donor blood at the bedside against the patient's details which are either read from their hospital name band and/or confirmed with the patient themselves, to ensure that the right blood is given to the right patient.  

Specific details of this case are not given and it is of course appreciated that there may be emergency situations where a rapid blood transfusion may mean the difference between life and death, however the risks of receiving the wrong blood type may also be potentially fatal, so I feel very strongly that there really is no excuse for not ensuring the correct blood is matched with the correct patient before a transfusion is administered under any circumstances.

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About the Author

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Sam is a Registered Nurse with 17 years' experience working in the NHS. She uses her medical and nursing knowledge and experience to liaise with clients.

Samantha Ward
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