Issue: March 2014
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Blood Draws, Testing, Transfusions: Venipuncture Injury, Inaccurate Results, Tainted Blood - The Liability Risks

Introduction

Blood Draws, Testing, Transfusions: Liability Issues

Blood draws, tests, and transfusions are among the most common medical procedures performed. More than 41,000 donations of blood, all requiring blood draws, are needed every day. Blood tests are routinely performed and evaluate how well specific organs (such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid, and heart) are performing; are used to diagnose specific medical conditions (such as cancer, diabetes, or anemia); or help assess other specific medical issues (such as how well medications are working). An estimated 5 million patients receive blood annually, resulting in 14.6 million transfusions per year.

 

As with any medical procedure the risk of injury from a blood draw, test, or transfusion exists. A blood draw can cause a puncture or nerve injury, blood test results can be inaccurate or untimely, leading to injury, and transfusions can cause infections or allergic reactions. Adverse consequences can lead to litigation.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers and others who may be involved in litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with blood draws, tests, and transfusions.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice for an injury resulting from a blood draw, test, or transfusion? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury resulting from a blood draw, test, or transfusion? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician or other provider to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for an injury resulting from a blood draw, test, or transfusion? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s injury resulting from a blood draw, test, or transfusion? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for medical malpractice or negligence for an injury resulting from a blood draw, blood test, or transfusion.

Physicians:

A physician or other health provider, such as a phlebotomist or nurse, should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving blood draws, blood testing, or blood transfusions.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of injury related to a blood draw, test, or transfusion.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s blood draw, blood test, or blood transfusion injury is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

Who Is Liable for Injury Resulting from the Administration of Blood or Blood Products?

Florence Shu-Acquaye, JSD, LLM

What Should the Standard of Cardiac Care Be for Blood Testing and Why Is Timeliness So Important?

Robert Steinbuch, JD

What Education, Training, and Certification Requirements Do Phlebotomists Need?

Diane C. Crawford

What Safety Guidelines Should Phlebotomists Follow For Venipunctures?

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons to Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in malpractice or medical negligence cases involving blood draws, blood testing, or blood transfusions?



Medical Examples

Blood Draws, Testing, and Transfusions

This section provides detailed medical information on blood draws, blood testing, and blood transfusions, guidelines for the procedures including steps in performing the procedures, and discusses the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical references for further information on blood draws, testing, and transfusions.


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Blood Draws, Testing, Transfusions: Venipuncture Injury, Inaccurate Results, Tainted Blood - The Liability Risks

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Florence Shu-Acquaye, JSD, LLM
   Robert Steinbuch, JD
   Diane C. Crawford
   University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Blood Draws, Testing, and Transfusions

Law and Medicine Resources