Life is very difficult and precarious for any patient who needs to be on a regimen of regular dialysis. For patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), dialysis can be life-saving. It can extend the life of many patients until they are able to get a kidney transplant done.
More than 3,40,000 Americans are being treated for ESRD. Of these 2,40,000 patients are on regular dialysis. Each year more than 67,000 deaths occur due to kidney failure. Currently, the yearly cost of treating kidney failure is approximately $18 billion in the United States.
What Is DIALYSIS?
It is a process of removing waste products and excess fluids from the body, a function that is normally performed by the kidney. So, basically, dialysis serves as a form of Artificial Kidney. There are 2 types of dialysis–Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis, of these a vast majority (90%) of dialysis patients undergo hemodialysis.
How and Why does Malpractice Happen during Dialysis?
A shift in the healthcare system from non-profit entities like community-based hospitals or academic medical centers to for-profit small dialysis centers could be one reason. There is no guarantee of safety at non-profit organizations. But higher risks of malpractice have been reported at some smaller for-profit organizations. The for-profit dialysis centers do not meet the set government standards for adequate care, identified by the Federal government’s General accounting office (GAO). Such centers typically have a smaller staff, technicians, and nurses who may not be well trained. Dialysis may be done for a shorter duration/periods to accommodate a greater number of patients. Shorter duration or inadequate dialysis is associated with greater long-term morbidity and mortality. Whether a mistake occurs in a private for-profit set up or hospital-based center, dialysis patients should be able to expect a safe and diligent treatment.
What are the Dialysis Errors That Can Happen?
- Bloodstream infections due to contamination of lines and machinery
- Vascular access-related events- Fistula can get clotted and the patient may require surgery which has its own complications
- Dialyzer error
- Dialysate error
- Medication error- Doctors ordering wrong medication or technicians administering the wrong dose.
- Failure to monitor vitals- Pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature properly
- Failing to clean the machines properly
- Non-functioning/ malfunctioning of machine alarm and improper response to the alarms
- Improper cleaning and filtering of the water system
- Patient falls
- Reuse of dialysis equipment intended for single use.
What are the Legal Aids for Dialysis Error?
If a patient has suffered from dialysis error, he or she can file a lawsuit for the damages caused due to the negligence and error. The compensation resulting from winning the medical malpractice suit can help you pay for the medical treatments and cover all other damages done. Contacting Hastings law Firm which specializes in medical malpractice lawsuits, to represent your case will increase your chances of winning the suit.
Judging from the above problems and their consequences, it is impertinent for the caregiver and the patient to be in the ‘KNOW HOW’. Carefully choosing the right dialysis center along with a skilled nephrologist could be lifesaving. Ask relevant questions to your nephrologist and seek awareness, for it is not only in your interest, but other patients care may improve as a result of your vigilance.