Life is precarious for anyone who needs to be on a regimen of dialysis. Their life becomes medically uncertain as dialysis soon becomes essential to the patient’s well-being and life expectancy. At Hannon Legal Group, we understand that opting for dialysis is often a difficult choice to. That’s why we believe that kidney dialysis malpractice is all the more egregious.
Understanding Kidney Disease in America
Over 20 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease. In fact, it’s the ninth leading cause of death. But dialysis isn’t for every patient. Dialysis only becomes necessary for individuals who have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or kidney failure.
Since any individual visiting this page is likely well aware of kidney disease and ESRD, why should Hannon Legal Group bother to discuss this? Because over 240,000 of the 340,000 people in the United States suffering from kidney failure are on dialysis. The cost for treating kidney failure in the U.S. is nearly $18 billion per year. Simply put, that’s a lot of money that health care providers want to get their hands on.
Treatment for Kidney Failure – Two Types of Dialysis
What is dialysis? And what does a dialysis machine do? The machine (and process) serves as a sort of artificial kidney for your body, cleansing toxins, waste, and unwanted water from your blood stream, while keeping the appropriately balanced levels of chemicals like sodium and potassium in your blood stream.
Of the two kinds of dialysis—hemodialysis and peritoneal—the vast majority (90%) of dialysis patients receive hemodialysis.
How is Kidney Dialysis Error Happening?
How are these errors occurring? The answer is: private, for-profit kidney dialysis centers. The federal government’s GAO, or General Accounting Office, discovered that these for-profit dialysis centers haven’t been meeting the standard for what the government considered to be adequate care.
According to a Medicare investigation uncovered by Hannon Legal Group, over one-fifth of the patients at 512 Medicare facilities weren’t being properly treated for dialysis. These centers have smaller staffs who are less thoroughly trained. Patients don’t stay as long as they would at non-profit centers, which can contribute to mortality rates.
Shifts in Healthcare May Be Leading to More Cases of Kidney Dialysis Malpractice
Where have these for-profit dialysis centers come from? It used to be that most healthcare was administered at non-profit or not-for-profit entities like a community hospital or academic medical center. But with all the money being spent to treat kidney failure, it’s no surprise that a large number of out patient for-profit kidney dialysis treatment centers have arisen.
Most of these outpatient dialysis treatment clinics are owned by a small number of larger healthcare companies. Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. are two examples of this. How big of a business is kidney dialysis?
DaVita Kidney Care, a division of DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc., manages, operates, or owns more than 2,000 outpatient dialysis centers in the United States alone. The company boasts over 46,000 employees. Fresenius Medical Care operates or owns over 3,300 such clinics worldwide. In 2013, their new revenues were in excess of $14 billion.
Unfortunately, what’s good for business isn’t necessarily good for your health. A recent study uncovered by Hannon Legal Group indicated that people who receive dialysis treatments at these for-profit dialysis centers experience an 8% higher risk of mortality than if they had sought dialysis at a non-profit clinic. The study further suggested that some 2,500 deaths each year might possibly be avoided if patients chose to receive their dialysis care at a non-profit dialysis clinic. Medical malpractice with respect to kidney dialysis is on the rise.
What Are the Kinds of Kidney Dialysis Errors?
With all the moving parts and pieces of dialysis treatment, there are many ways that kidney dialysis error malpractice can take place. As with any other kind of medical malpractice, kidney dialysis error malpractice means that a provider failed to provide the minimum adequate standard of care for you and that their negligence resulted in pain, suffering, or worse for the patient.
Kidney Dialysis errors could involve:
- Causing infections in the bloodstream due to contamination of lines or machinery
- Dialysate error (meaning there was an improper use of acid concentrate in a hemodialysis machine)
- Dialysis machine leaks
- Dialyzer errors
- Excess blood loss or prolonged bleeding
- Failing to clear dialysis machines of cleaning solutions
- Failure to monitor blood pressure and/or other vital signs
- Improper responses to machine alarms
- Malfunctioning machine alarms
- Medication error
- Negligent cleaning and filtering of water system at the clinic
- Patient falls
- Vascular access-related events
What Harm Comes to Kidney Dialysis Error Victims?
Because of the nature of renal disease, kidney dialysis errors that result in medical malpractice are not always readily apparent. The disease itself causes harm in a way that is sometimes slow to diagnose. So when a dialysis clinic or other healthcare provider commits an act of negligence with regard to kidney dialysis, it can go unnoticed. Here are some of the side effects that you might notice if your body, for example, gets an overdose of acetate or acetic acid through dialysis:
- Cramps – The onset of cramps may accompany the end of a dialysis session. The result is painful and may restrict movement if not corrected.
- Hypoxemia – Hypoxemia refers to low oxygen in the blood and happens to 90% of dialysis patients. Your body needs oxygen and if this condition is left untreated, the result could be death.
- Low Blood Pressure, also known as Hypotension – This common complication happens due to the ultrafiltration of the blood and the patient’s cardiovascular system not being adequately refilled. Hypotension could mean a loss of balance or dizziness that leads to a fall.
How a Kidney Dialysis Error Malpractice Victim In Florida Can Be Compensated
If a kidney dialysis technician has acted negligently during your dialysis treatment and you have suffered harm, that’s medical malpractice. Your healthcare provider can be held accountable for this and required to compensate you for your loss. Compensation may include:
- Pain and Suffering: Injuries you sustain while trying to recover from a dialysis error can cause very real emotional suffering. You may be able to be compensation for this anguish.
- Punitive Damages: If the provider’s negligence was extraordinarily egregious, additional financial damages may be awarded to punish the provider for how they acted and to help prevent something like it from happening again.
- Your Lost Wages: When a kidney dialysis error means missing time from work, you could be entitled to recover your lost wages or salary.
- The Cost of Your Medical Bills: Health care providers that are found guilty in medical malpractice cases can be expected to pay for the current and future medical expenses needed to correct the damage they caused through their kidney dialysis negligence.
- Wrongful Death: If a dialysis error leads to death, wrongful death compensation may be merited.
Turn to Hannon Legal Group if You are A Victim of Kidney Dialysis Error Malpractice
If your injuries occurred in Florida, you’ll want a knowledgeable and experienced kidney dialysis error medical malpractice firm based in Florida to ensure that you receive justice. Miami-based Hannon Legal Group understands what it takes to demonstrate that your dialysis center’s substandard care led to the harm you’ve experienced.