In healthcare, there are patient safety rules that must be followed to protect patients from unnecessary harm. The safety rules are called standards of care. Healthcare is usually provided by a team of healthcare professionals. An error by any one can cause severe harm.
Unrecognized or misdiagnosed kidney disease can put a patient in danger of loss of kidney function. Examples of medical negligence causing kidney failure include:
- Use of Contrast Dyes in Radiology Procedures: Certain medical procedures, such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans, and other radiology studies use a contrast dye (fluid) to more clearly see blood vessels on an X-ray. These dyes, which are typically injected into the vein before a procedure, are part of radiology studies. Dye used in medical procedures accounts for 12% of hospital kidney failure. The injury is called contrast-induced nephropathy. In patients with risk factors, such as high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension), heart disease (i.e., cardiovascular disease), diabetes, or existing kidney disease, chance of kidney failure can be 20 to 50%.
- Medication Errors: Being given the wrong medication can cause serious harm and even death. In one case, the nurse gave the patient ten times the vitamin D prescribed, and the overdose destroyed his kidneys.
- Poorly Treated High Blood Pressure or Diabetes: Patients with high blood pressure or diabetes require regular treatment and close monitoring to keep them safe. Healthcare failure to monitor and treat the conditions at appropriate intervals violates patient safety rules. For a diabetic patient with high blood pressure, a doctor’s failure to prescribe medication for high blood pressure needlessly endangers the kidneys. High blood pressure strains the heart and can damage blood vessels. If blood vessels to the kidney are damaged, the kidney will not work and may lose function. In the U.S., high blood pressure causes over 25,000 new cases of kidney failure each year. Kidney damage can be prevented with proper treatment and follow-up.
- Failure to Diagnose Kidney Disease or IgA Nephropathy: Symptoms of kidney disease can be subtle. A doctor’s failure to recognize or understand symptoms can deny a patient treatment. If appropriately caught and treated, progression of kidney disease can be slowed and kidney failure prevented. Under patient safety rules, healthcare professionals must order testing and provide the patient information and referrals for abnormal test results. If a healthcare professional fails to order a blood testing or fails to follow up on an abnormal result, it is medical malpractice.
- Use of Hydroxyethyl Starch: Hydroxyethyl starch is an intravenous (IV) solution given to patients to treat and prevent shock after blood loss from a trauma or surgery. Studies have found it increases risk for acute kidney injury and death.
Resources Available to Those With Kidney Damage or Failure
For more information on kidney disease, including the signs and symptoms of kidney disease and kidney failure, available treatment options, and the most up-to-date news and information please visit:
The National Kidney Foundation
The Kidney & Urology Foundation of America, Inc.
Also, the US Department of Health and Human Services has a website dedicated to providing the most recent research in kidney disease:
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
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