Ethico-legal aspects of hospital-based blood transfusion practice; implications of professional negligence to medical practitioners: a review

  • JA Orkuma
  • ON Ayla
Keywords: Professional negligence, medical practitioner, hospital-based, blood transfusion, liability, Nigeria


Background: Blood transfusion is predominantly a hospital-based practice in many resourceconstrained economies like Nigeria, wherein the sourcing, storage, processing and clinical use of blood and blood products resides in the often financial and manpower constrained hospitals. Aim: To identify the ethical and legal issues related to hospital-based blood transfusion practice for medical practitioner. Methods: Relevant articles retrieved via PubMed/MEDLINE and Google scholar search engines were used. Results: This review found that, medical practitioners are directly or vicariously liable in professional negligence in hospital-based transfusion injuries. The potential weaknesses in hospital-based blood transfusion practice as ethically identified include; transfusion transmissible infections, blood group incompatibility, haemolytic transfusion reaction, failure to obtain informed consent and challenges of haemovigillance. However from the cases considered, medical practitioners are more professionally liable where they withhold a transfusion or transfuse blood group incompatible transfusion or fail to obtain an informed consent for blood transfusion especially amongst Jehovah’s Witness adherents. Conclusion: Medical practitioners at hospital-based transfusion centres are professionally liable for negligence due to blood transfusion injuries by their clinical, laboratory or general administrative oversight at different levels of hospital management. It is recommended that, they carry out this duty cautiously. While error reporting should be encouraged, litigations against them should be pursued cautiously in order not to encourage defensive blood transfusion practices in fear of claims or litigations to the disadvantage of the patients. Mediation or arbitration systems which are faster, less expensive and often less punitive but help strengthen the blood transfusion services should be encouraged. Key words: Professional negligence, medical practitioner, hospital-based, blood transfusion, liability, Nigeria

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2315-5019
print ISSN: 2277-0941