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How Are Patients Hemorrhaging, Going Into Shock, Or Bleeding To Death During Hemodialysis Treatment?

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 29, 2012  |  

It is estimated that close to 400,000 Americans are currently receiving dialysis for end stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure. That number has almost tripled in the last two decades and diabetes in the US has reached epidemic proportions. More than 90% of patients receiving hemodialysis (HD) do so three times a week in out-patient dialysis centers. The sad reality is that the US has the world’s highest death rate among dialysis patients and it is not always due to their underlying medical conditions. Many dialysis patients bleed to death during their HD treatments.

ProPublica reviewed records from more than 1,500 dialysis clinics in California, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. What they found was death, hemorrhage, or brain injuries related to dialysis needle dislodgements that went were never reported. So far, only a handful of states, including Colorado, Georgia, New York and Tennessee, mandate dialysis unit errors or mistakes report incidents that involved bleeding injuries or death in a dialysis patient. In October of 2008, the Veterans Administration (VA) National Center for Safety published an advisory due to the number of significant bleeding episodes during dialysis treatments. The VA found 40 incidents they considered “serious” or 1 in every 62,500 dialysis patients were harmed.

When a dialysis patient undergoes hemodialysis they are attached to a machine by inserting two needles into their arm. One tube carries the patient’s blood into a filter called a dialyzer that removes all the toxins from the blood, and the clean blood is then returned back into the body by way of the other tube. But what happens if one of those tubes gets dislodged and goes unnoticed?

Many times, when a patient is receiving a dialysis treatment, which could take a few hours to complete, they are resting or sleeping and their arms are covered with blankets or sheets. If a clip holding the tubes in place becomes dislodged, the dialysis patient can start to hemorrhage under the sheets. Many times, the bleeding does not get noticed until the patient develops hemodynamic, hypovolemic, or hemorrhagic shock. Shock occurs when the body loses too much blood and vitals organs, such as the brain and liver, do not receive the necessary vital oxygen and blood to prevent brain damage. If a dialysis patient survives the blood loss, they can still be left with a significant brain injury or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley medical malpractice law firm, our experienced medical and legal teams are aware of how quickly a hemodialysis patient can go into shock or die if not appropriately monitored during the dialysis treatment. If you or a loved one suffered bleeding, hemorrhage, brain damage or death due to negligent care during a dialysis treatment, please feel free to contact on of our experienced lawyers, doctors or critical care nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation. To date, we have had numerous million and multi-million verdicts awarded on behalf of our injured clients. We were there for them when they needed us and we are here for you now.

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