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Medical Malpractice and Mistakes: When Kidney Dialysis Errors Turn Disastrous

Photo of a doctor showing a picture of a kidney on a tablet in a hospital

Across the United States, nearly 350,000 men and women are being treated for kidney failure. Of these people, more than 240,000 are dialysis patients. A dialysis treatment essentially acts as an artificial kidney, which cleans toxins, waste, and water from your bloodstream. This ultimately keeps your chemical levels balanced and your body functioning as normally as possible.

Unfortunately, when kidney dialysis errors occur, they can result in severe bodily harm and medical malpractice.

Types of Dialysis

There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. The vast majority of patients receive hemodialysis. During this process, an artificial kidney machine pumps blood out of your body, treats it, then returns the blood to your body. 

In peritoneal dialysis, doctors pump sterile cleansing fluid into your stomach via a catheter. This process uses your body as a natural filter and can be continuous. Such treatment will allow you to live your day-to-day life, go to work, study at school and participate in extracurricular activities. You can also undergo this treatment at night while you sleep. 

How Kidney Dialysis Errors Happen

A recent study found that patients treated at private, for-profit kidney dialysis centers face an eight percent higher risk of death than those treated at private, nonprofit clinics. The federal government has determined that some for-profit centers do not meet the standards required for adequate care—often lacking the correct number of staff members as well as proper training.

There is also the matter of big business to consider. The cost of treating kidney failure in the United States averages $18 billion per year and healthcare providers want a piece. This ambition sometimes leads to cutting corners.

Examples of Malpractice

There are many ways in which dialysis treatment can go wrong, including:

  • Contamination of lines or machinery
  • The improper use of acid concentrate in a dialysis machine
  • Leaks that occur as a result of an improperly maintained dialysis machine
  • Failure to properly monitor blood during dialysis appointments
  • Failure to monitor other vital signs during dialysis appointments
  • Failure to respond and/or improper responses to machine alarms
  • The negligent cleaning or filtering of water in a clinic

Possible Symptoms and Injuries

Because kidney failure can cause new, worsening symptoms over a long period of time, it can often be difficult to tell when medical malpractice has taken place during dialysis. Unfortunately, this means the malpractice often goes unnoticed and unpunished.

Keep an eye out for cramps, low oxygen levels (hypoxemia), and low blood pressure, as these are all common signs of an overdose of acetate or acetic acid. 

Cramps may come immediately after a dialysis session and may be painful or restrict movement. Hypoxemia may leave your body without enough oxygen to function. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is a common complication that comes with the ultrafiltration of your blood. It could cause weakness, a loss of balance, or dizziness.

There are, of course, other symptoms that may result from kidney dialysis errors. Pay close attention to your symptoms and consult your regular physician if you feel them worsening. If you believe your dialysis center has been negligent or reckless in your treatment, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced California Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Assistance

Have you or a loved one been the victim of medical malpractice after beginning dialysis? You are not alone. To fight for the compensation you deserve, contact an experienced California medical malpractice lawyer at Mitchell Leeds, LLP  by calling (415)-769-3400.

 

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