For hundreds of thousands of people in this country, dialysis is a lifeline.But as an investigative ProPublica series has uncovered, those treatments aren’t nearly as safe as we might hope – especially given how much they cost.
Our Charlotte dialysis injury lawyers have long been vocal about the damage done by medications such as GranuFlo and Naturalyte, which have been associated with high rates of cardiac arrest or even death.
What you may not be aware of, though, is how dangerous the actual dialysis treatment can be.
Dialysis is administered to those who are suffering kidney failure or renal disease. It’s not a cure, but rather a means to replicate the essential function of the kidneys that is currently failing in a patient’s own system. Some people receive dialysis treatments until they can secure a transplant, while others who may not be good candidates for a transplant will be on dialysis the rest of their lives, usually several times a week.
There are an estimated 400,000 people who receive these treatments – at a cost of $20 billion annually.
Despite the astronomical cost, these facilities are rarely staffed with a doctor during day-to-day operations. (They are required to have certified physicians who serve as medical directors, but they don’t have to be there day in and day out.) Sometimes, there aren’t even nurses at these locations – just technicians who are trained to stick a needle in your arm and turn the machines on. But this lack of training has resulted in devastating consequences.
There have been situations where needles have come out of people’s arms, only to have the staffers react poorly to the sight of blood and therefore not take the swift and appropriate action necessary to secure the patient’s well-being.
In combing through thousands of inspection reports across the country, ProPublica reporters found patients often receive treatments in conditions that aren’t sanitary and that are thus prone to dangerous lapses in care.
Patients are often treated assembly-line style, with some clinics reportedly encouraging patients to soil themselves so that their dialysis session won’t be interrupted.
But because there has been so much industry consolidation in recent years, patients may not have much of a choice in where they go.
In Charlotte, a number of facilities were rated in the red for poor performance.
One center in particular had very poor inspection reports (we won’t name names, but you can find the information by searching ProPublica’s city database). This center had a 45 percent worse-than-expected mortality rate, and emergency room visits were 66 percent higher than expected. Tates of septicemia and access-related infections were between 9 and 23 percent higher than expected. Transplants rates there were 80 percent lower than expected. This facility was known to have 19 standard deficiencies and 3 major (or potentially life-threatening) deficiencies.
People who are suffering from kidney diseases already have much with which to contend. They deserve to be treated in a clean facility by competent staffers who put their needs first.
When that doesn’t happen and you suffer serious illness or injury as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid, exclusive of case costs.
In Dialysis, Life-Saving Care at Great Risk and Cost, Nov. 9, 2010, By Robin Fields, ProPublica
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