Kidney Dialysis Errors
Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from kidney disease. In fact, kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in this country. Fortunately, due to the fact that persons have multiple kidneys, transplants of healthy kidneys to replace an unhealthy kidney is a not uncommon medical procedure. Even though the procedure is routine, mistakes can still happen, some which may be medical malpractice. The bigger problem with kidney disorders is the lack of available kidneys. As a result, many individuals suffering from kidney disease must undergo kidney dialysis, a procedure which typically occurs not at a hospital, but at a facility specifically for that purpose. Unfortunately, there are many issues at dialysis centers that can harm a patient, and retaining the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be necessary if an injury occurs. An investigative story in San Diego highlights some of the dangers present to patients at kidney dialysis centers. A discussion of some of the common types of kidney dialysis errors, as well as some of the health problems that can arise from these errors, will follow below.
Kidney Dialysis Errors as Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim
In Florida, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional acts in a negligent manner. In this case, “negligence” means that the medical professional violated his/her standard of care when treating a patient. Further, the “standard of care” is, generally, the level of care, skill, and treatment which is acceptable and appropriate by a reasonably prudent and similar medical professional.
As mentioned above, kidney disease is a top ten cause of death for Americans. To combat end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, many Americans undergo kidney dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant. The dialysis process acts as an artificial kidney, by filtering and cleaning the patient’s blood through a machine. There are two types of dialysis: peritoneal and hemodialysis. About 90% of patients receiving dialysis receive it as hemodialysis, a process that purifies the blood, much as a functioning kidney would do. This is a medical procedure, and, as a result, dialysis carries with it some risk. Unfortunately, some of this risk is preventable, such as the following:
- Using shortcuts that have not been approved and are not in compliance with the required standard of care;
- Leaks in the dialysis machine;
- Infections in the bloodstream due to the contamination of the lines or the dialysis machinery, including the failure to clear the dialysis machine of cleaning solutions, causing introduction of the solution to the patient;
- Dialysis machine malfunctions;
- Dialysate error, or the improper use of acid concentrate in the dialysis machine;
- Blood loss and/or extensive bleeding;
- Failure to monitor a patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, or failure to monitor and assist an unstable patient;
- Not responding to machine alarms or responding to false alarms;
- Medication errors, such as omission, improper dosage or the wrong patient; and
- Improper cleaning and/or filtering of the water system.
Unfortunately, a patient who undergoes kidney dialysis already suffers from a compromised physical condition due to his/her renal disease. As a result, the aforementioned errors may not be immediately apparent, and may, in fact, manifest themselves at some point in the future. In fact, renal disease sometimes negatively affects the symptoms of such error, as the disease itself can cause the symptoms to show up later than what would normally be expected. Obviously, some symptoms are easy to discover – such as excessive bleeding. However, some symptoms which can be a harbinger of a more serious issue that may have been caused by dialysis error include cramps, which may accompany the end of a dialysis session, or may, if painful, indicate another issue, hypoxemia (low oxygen in the blood), and hypotension (low blood pressure).
Seek Legal Advice
If you, or someone you love, is currently undergoing kidney dialysis, and suffered an injury from dialysis, contact a medical negligence attorney as soon as possible. The Miami attorneys at the law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado have experience in medical negligence involving kidney dialysis errors, and will work to determine the best strategy to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.