Nurse from Stevenage given suspended sentence after using wrong type of blood in transfusion which killed patient

Steven Garrott was jailed for four years when he appeared before Judge Justin Cole at Harrow Crown C

Steven Garrott was jailed for four years when he appeared before Judge Justin Cole at Harrow Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A nurse from Stevenage has today been given a suspended sentence after using the wrong type of blood in a transfusion which killed a patient in her care.

Lea Ledesma, previously of Shephall Way, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison – suspended for two years – having already been found guilty of unlawfully killing Ali Huseyin by gross negligence.

Ledesma, who was also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and pay a £140 victim surcharge when appearing at Southwark Crown Court, had been caring for Mr Huseyin after a successful heart bypass operation at the London Heart Hospital.

The 76-year-old had been transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit to recover and, following the operation on May 6, 2014, Ledesma had carried out a blood transfusion that evening without incident.

The 49-year-old senior staff nurse concluded her shift at around 8pm and came back to work the following morning. Overnight, Mr Huseyin was given another blood transfusion as part of his care – again, this was administered without incident.

During the first hour of the morning shift, some concerns about Mr Huseyin’s health were raised and it became apparent that he was losing fluid through a chest drain that had been fitted following his operation.

He was examined by the doctor who decided another unit of blood should be transfused.

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Ledesma was authorised to obtain the blood which was stored in a secure vending style machine – which ensures it can only be obtained by using a patient’s unique reference number. Usually this is done by scanning a barcode which is issued to the patient on arrival and can be obtained by an authorised person from the medical records. However, if those records cannot be accessed, the unique code can be manually entered into the machine.

On this morning, Ledesma wrote what she thought was the correct code on her hand before going to the machine. But there was a patient also on the ward with a similar surname, and the nurse had mistakenly obtained his details.

The court heard that when obtaining the blood there still should have been sufficient checks to prevent the incorrect blood being transfused into Mr Huseyin. On dispensing the blood, a barcode pertaining to the relevant patient was issued. This would have identified the blood as not being suitable for Mr Huseyin.

Ledesma noticed that the name on the blood bag did not match the details of her patient. She thought that the patient may have another name so continued. Mr Huseyin was conscious at this time and Ledesma asked him to confirm his date of birth which would have clarified the blood obtained from the machine was not for him. However, when he stated this information Ledesma was looking at the wristband on his arm instead of the blood.

She then noted the unique patient number did not match and raised this with a senior colleague who advised the transfusion should not be carried out using that blood, and she should check to ensure her patient’s details had been recorded correctly.

Ledesma went to a computer to check the details but did so against the incorrect records. Believing she had the correct blood she proceeded to carry out the transfusion at around 10.40am.

Mr Huseyin was blood group O, while the blood being transfused was blood group AB.

Shortly after the transfusion, Mr Huseyin’s condition began to deteriorate and he was rushed away for surgery. It was only an hour later that Ledesma confessed that she had administered the wrong blood.

She initially tried to lay blame for the mistake elsewhere, saying she had taken her information from documentation left by her colleague who had looked after Mr Huseyin during the night – and it was that nurse who had given the wrong blood. However, checks of the records showed this was a lie.

When further questioned, Ledesma also claimed she had checked the details of the blood she had got from the machine and they matched with Mr Huseyin’s records. When pressed she admitted to being distracted and flustered by the patient’s worsening condition and may have not checked the details thoroughly.

The police were called and Ledesma was arrested, and then later charged. She was found guilty of unlawful killing by gross negligence at Southwark Crown Court on December 14, 2016.

Following the sentencing, Det Ch Insp Graeme Gwyn from the Metropolitan Police said: “This was a difficult and tragic case for all involved. “Our sympathies continue to remain with the family of Ali Huseyin and I hope this will bring some comfort after what has been an incredibly difficult time for them.”