A new investigation states that errors in preventing rhesus disease occur far too frequently because pregnant women are denied a treatment that will help protect their fetus from harm. According to protocol, all pregnant women should have their blood screened and if it is found that they have rhesus negative blood then they should be treated with an anti-D jab. However, an audit conducted of the NHS hospitals revealed that this is not occurring.
The investigators found that over the last 15 years dating back to 1996 there were more than 1,200 errors where women that should have been treated with the anti-D injection did not receive it. In about 50% of these cases the women either were not given the treatment at all or were given it late because a midwife, doctor, or nurse failed to follow the normal protocol.
About 25% of the cases were caused by laboratory errors. In another fifth of the medical cases anti-D was given to a woman that did not need it or to the wrong mother by mistake. Out of the 1,200 errors, in nine cases babies unfortunately were the victims of the mistakes with one child dying and another three requiring full blown blood transfusions.
The authors of the study from the University of Manchester are concerned that these types of errors are too common even though there are treatment guidelines that doctors are supposed to follow.
Dr. Paula Bolton-Maggs, the lead researcher of the study, stated that their findings reveal that over the 15 year period the same type of mistakes were made over and over again by lab and clinical staff. Bolton-Maggs went on to say that these are large problems that need to be acted on at both a local and national level.