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How Do I Know if My Kidney Failure was Caused by Medical Malpractice?

September 9, 2020

Government research shows nearly one in every 10 adults experience issues with chronic kidney disease. The condition, also known as chronic renal disease, is defined as the gradual loss of kidney function over time. Our kidneys continually filter waste products out of the blood for elimination through urination. If this function stops or is otherwise impacted, it can cause serious health problems.

Chronic kidney disease can result in an excess buildup of waste product and may cause a number of serious health complications, including high blood pressure, anemia (i.e., decrease in red blood cells), fluid retention, weakened bones, central nervous system damage, decreased immune function, or even a life-threatening sudden increases in potassium levels.

If this isn’t treated, a patient can end up with kidney failure—the kidney’s inability to filter waste products from the blood.

What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Failure?

If you believe that your kidneys are starting to fail, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in the feet and ankles;
  • Itching;
  • Muscle cramping;
  • The inability to catch your breath;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Not feeling hungry;
  • Too much or insufficient urine; and
  • Difficulty sleeping.

In addition, if your kidneys cease function suddenly—known as “acute kidney failure—you may experienced one or more of these symptoms:

  • Back pain;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain;
  • Fever;
  • Persistent nosebleeds;
  • Rash; and
  • Vomiting

If you have any of the symptoms, it may be a signal of a serious kidney problems.

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately. Acute kidney injury or acute renal failure can be caused by heart attack, illegal drug use and drug abuse, insufficient blood flow to the kidneys, and urinary tract issues.

What are the Causes of Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure is frequently the result of other health problems that have permanently damaged your kidneys over time. If this happens, your kidneys may not function properly. As the damage to your kidneys becomes more severe, you develop chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure is the last (most severe) stage of chronic kidney disease. It’s also known as “end-stage renal disease” (ESRD).

The most common causes of ESRD are diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of the other health issues that can cause kidney failure include:

  • Autoimmune diseases, like lupus and IGA nephropathy;
  • Genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease;
  • Urinary tract problems; and
  • Nephrotic syndrome.

What Are The Complications of Kidney Failure?

Even when you’re being treated for kidney failure, you may have other health issues that are caused by failing kidneys. Common complications include the following:

  • Anemia;
  • Heart disease;
  • Bone disease and high phosphorus (hyperphosphatemia);
  • Fluid buildup; and
  • High potassium (hyperkalemia).

Medical Negligence or Malpractice

Physicians and other healthcare professionals are required to follow safety rules to protect patients from unnecessary harm. These rules are known as “standards of care.”

In a fast-paced healthcare practice, like a large clinic or hospital, there will usually be a team of healthcare professionals who care for a patient, including doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, technicians, and other specialists. If any one of the members of this team make a mistake, it may result in serious injury to a patient.

There are several common types of kidney failure medical malpractice. Unrecognized or misdiagnosed kidney disease is one type. Some of the other examples of medical negligence that cause possible kidney failure include:

  • The use of contrast dyes in radiology procedures. Some medical procedures, such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scans, and other radiology studies use a contrast dye to see blood vessels more clearly. Contrast dyes are injected into the vein before a procedure. Reaction to this dye makes up roughly 12% of hospital-induced kidney failure and is called contrast-induced nephropathy. Patients with certain known risk factors, like high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease (cardiovascular disease), diabetes, or existing kidney disease increase their chances of kidney failure to 20 – 50%.
  • Medication errors. A patient who’s given the wrong medication can be seriously harmed and may even die. Errors in administering the proper dosage and the incorrect medicine has caused numerous medical malpractice injuries. Healthcare workers have procedures and safety check to avoid this result. When shortcuts are taken or mistakes are made, patients are seriously injured and some even die.
  • Poorly treated high blood pressure or diabetes. Patients diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes must have regular treatment and close monitoring to keep them safe. A healthcare provider’s failure to monitor and treat these conditions at appropriate intervals is a breach of the provider’s duty and their standard of care. In the U.S. alone, high blood pressure is linked to more than 25,000 new cases of kidney failure annually, many of these cases are the result of improper treatment.
  • Failure to diagnose kidney disease or IGA nephropathy. The symptoms of kidney disease can often be subtle, and a doctor’s failure to recognize or understand certain symptoms can mean a patient doesn’t receive proper treatment. When detected early and treated, the progression of kidney disease can be slowed, and kidney failure can be prevented. Healthcare professionals are required to order adequate testing and provide the patient with information and referrals for abnormal test results. If a healthcare professional fails to order a blood test or fails to follow up on an abnormal result, it’s medical negligence.
  • Use of hydroxyethyl starch. This is a type of intravenous (IV) solution administered to patients to treat and prevent shock after excessive blood loss from a trauma or surgery. This solution was approved years ago for IV bags without the proper clinical trials to ensure its safety. Subsequent research found the hydroxyethyl starch increases risk for acute kidney injury and death.

Contact a Michigan Kidney Failure Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you know has recently experienced kidney failure, and facts suggest that it may be medical negligence, it’s critical you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney in Grand Rapids immediately to protect your interests or those of your loved one.

Buchanan Firm retains medical professionals who are available to immediately investigate your claim to determine if it was caused by medical negligence. Buchanan Firm’s injury lawyers in Grand Rapids have Michigan medical malpractice attorneys, nurses, and paralegals to assist you in this difficult time.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.