Blood Transfusion Errors Rise by 20 per Cent and Kill 15 Patients
Charles Arthur Technology Editor, The Independent (London, England)
THE NUMBER of cases of the wrong type of blood being given to hospital patients rose by 20 per cent last year, causing as many as 15 deaths and putting dozens of other people into intensive care.
But the group of health experts that collected the latest figures believes the true total could be twice as high, because half of hospitals reported no transfusion errors - a position seen as highly unlikely.
The mistakes were made despite repeated calls for simple technological systems such as barcodes to be used to prevent such errors. Such a system is only now being piloted in the North of England.
The latest report is from Serious Hazards of Transfusion (Shot), an independent group of clinicians inside the National Health Service formed in 1996 to collect data on serious effects from transfusions of blood and its components. It shows that in 2002 there were a total of 363 cases where people received the wrong blood component - which can lead to a deadly immune response - or caught infections through the transfusion. …