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What is Exsanguination?

Exsanguination is losing blood to such a degree that the person bleeding dies. It is also known as ‘bleeding out’ and ‘bleeding to death.’ A person does not have to lose all of their blood to exsanguinate. They only have to lose enough blood that the body can no longer sustain itself. The act of hemorrhaging until you die from blood loss is exsanguination.

What are the Causes of Exsanguination?

Exsanguination may be the result of physical trauma resulting in profuse bleeding or it may be due to a medical deficiency in a person’s blood that prevents clotting and/or allows the body to bleed out internally. Exsanguination from trauma or bleeding out occurs most often after a major artery is severed and the bleeding is not stopped. A bleed-out may occur due to internal or external trauma.  Exsanguination from blood deficiencies may be caused by medications intentionally or accidentally slowing the blood’s ability to clot or by diseases such as blood cancers. There are many ways that people may exsanguinate  that result in personal injury claims including:

  • Severe external injuries sustained from direct trauma.
  • Severe internal injuries from direct trauma.
  • Deep laceration of a major artery.
  • Misdiagnosis of internal trauma.
  • Drugs that prevent blood clotting.

What is Fetal Exsanguination?

Fetal exsanguination occurs when a fetus bleeds in the uterus resulting in the loss of the life of the fetus.

What Are the Causes of Fetal Exsanguination?

The most common causes of fetal exsanguination are:

  • Fetomaternal hemorrhage. A condition that occurs when the membrane in the placenta fails to prevent the maternal blood and the fetal blood from coming into contact and blood cells are lost from the fetus to the mother’s blood supply causing the fetus to exsanguinate.
  • Velamentous cord insertion. A condition where the umbilical cord fails to connect correctly between the fetus and the placenta allowing blood vessels to be exposed where they may burst and bleed easier until the fetus exsanguinates.
  • Placenta previa. If the placenta attaches too low in the uterus, it can block the cervix partially and blood vessels can rupture during the birthing process causing severe hemorrhaging that leads to exsanguination.
  • Vasa previa. This is a complication of birth that occurs when membranes around the baby rupture and cause the blood vessels connecting the umbilical cord to the placenta to rupture.
  • Accidentally cutting the placenta during a cesarean section.
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion. This occurs with twins when the smaller one transfers more blood to the larger twin. The larger twin is at risk of heart failure from too much blood the smaller is at risk of exsanguination.
  • Rupture of a hematoma of the umbilical cord. A rare complication of pregnancy that may lead to the fetus exsanguinating.
  • Puncture of the placental or cord vessels during amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is the test for Down’s Syndrome, Edward’s Syndrome, and Pateau’s Syndrome. If performed incorrectly, can result in a puncture and subsequent bleeding to the point of exsanguination.

Fetal exsanguination is rare during a vaginal birth. If your baby suffers fetal exsanguination, it may or may not be the result of medical negligence on the part of one or more of the medical providers. Speak with a birth injury attorney if you have questions about your case.

Personal Injury Claims Involving Exsanguination

exsanguinateWhen a person exsanguinates due to the negligence of another person, this may give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit. The estate of the deceased individual and/or the proper heirs designated under the relevant State’s Wrongful Death Statute have the right to bring the claim. Exsanguination may give rise to personal injury claims when it is a result of medications reducing one’s blood’s ability to clot or it may be from sustaining injuries with such force or severity as to cause the person to literally bleed out.

Can Certain Medications Can Cause a Person to Exsanguinate?

Yes. Blood thinners may lead to exsanguination in certain circumstances. Blood thinners have several medical uses.  They are commonly used to treat patients with heart issues such as blood clots and blockages that often need them to live. However, not all blood clotting is bad. Your blood clots to form scabs when you suffer an injury. If your body cannot form blood clots because you are on blood thinners, exsanguination may occur.

There are many different blood thinners on the market to choose from. Some of them contain an antidote that can help stop the bleeding.  Several blood thinners have come under scrutiny in recent years because of their lack of an antidote and their marketing tactics that may not have fully disclosed the absence of an antidote and the significance thereof. Thousands of Pradaxa lawsuits and Xarelto lawsuits have been filed due to the issue of exsanguinating from a minor injury.

After What Types of Accidents Can You Exsanguinate?

A person can exsanguinate following any type of accident that results in the severing of a major artery or severe internal trauma. Accidents that involve severe crushing injuries such as a high-impact automobile accident or an injury on-the-job where an individual is caught between two heavy objects. Exsanguination or “bleeding out” on the operating table can also be the result of a failed heart surgery or other medical procedure that may or may not involve medical negligence. Additionally, even a minor accident can cause a person to exsanguinate if the person is on anti-coagulants or has a medical condition that reduces the ability of the person’s blood to clot.

Medical Conditions that May Cause Exsanguination

There are many medical conditions that may result in a person hemorrhaging to the point of exsanguination. Some examples of these include:

  • Excessive Menstruation
  • Leukemia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Low Platelets
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Liver Disease
  • Hemophilia
  • Von Willebrand Disease
  • Vitamin K Deficiency.

What Is the Difference Between Exsanguinate vs Insanguinate

Insanguinate is sometimes used interchangeably with exsanguinate. However, insanguinate is actually an Italian word meaning ‘bloody’ or ‘blood-soaked.’ Exsanguinate refers to an uncontrollable bleed out.

When to Consult an Attorney About Exsanguination

When someone you love bleeds out due to blunt force physical trauma caused by the negligent acts of another person, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help the family recover for the medical bills, loss of earnings, loss of consortium, emotional trauma, and loss of love and support caused by the catastrophic injury that resulted in exsanguination. When the bleeding out is the result of taking blood thinners or is an illness that is a side-effect of taking prescribed defective pharmaceuticals, you may have legal rights as well.  Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury and Accident Lawyers have been offering free consultations to serious injury victims and their families since 1979.  Learn your legal rights today. When we take on a personal injury case, we charge no attorney fees and no attorney expenses to you unless we make a recovery in the case. Call 800-298-0111 for a free consultation.


*This information is for education purposes. None of the information on this page is intended as medical or legal advice. No attorney-client privilege or relationship is hereby created.




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