Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

Over $400 Million worth of case results

Awarded The Best Lawyer in 2024 by U.S. News

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Life-saving dialysis for people with kidney failure can bring about its own risks. Although needed to help these patients filter their blood, the procedure itself can cause various side effects that can affect the patient’s health.

Common side effects can cause the patient to fall or have other problems after the procedure resulting in serious injury or death. Medical staff at many dialysis centers need to be aware of these dangerous side effects to protect patients.

Dialysis Malpractice Lawyer

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC represent people who have suffered an injury during dialysis procedures or who have been injured at a kidney dialysis center. Contact a dialysis malpractice lawyer at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

Dialysis Patients

Hemodialysis patients are at risk for several potential complications from dialysis machines during their treatments, such as dialysis access problems, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.

A functioning kidney transplant is the best way to treat end-stage renal disease, but when this isn’t an option, patients commonly receive treatment such as dialysis to stay alive.

An artificial kidney machine is used to perform dialysis. Taxpayers spend billions of dollars every year on dialysis, a treatment for kidney failure.

Receiving Dialysis Due to Kidney Failure

The healthcare spotlight is once again on the risks of renal dialysis, with a new study highlighting the dangers of this life-saving treatment.

If a dialysis machine has injured you, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. A kidney dialysis system is a treatment for kidney failure that involves using a dialysis machine to filter your blood.

Medical Malpractice During Dialysis Care

The dialysis care system in the United States is in crisis. Patients are dying because of avoidable dialysis errors, and many more are being injured.

A national kidney foundation study revealed that nearly 40 percent of patients receiving dialysis would suffer from some form of malpractice within the first year. The basic conclusion that can be drawn from these findings is that there is a significant amount of malpractice in the dialysis industry.

Vascular access-related events are the primary reasons for malpractice claims against hemodialysis providers, with infection being the most common malpractice claim.

For many years, industry consolidation has been a big issue in dialysis care. As large companies have overtaken smaller ones, patients and their families have been left with fewer choices for care.

Dialysis Malpractice While Receiving Dialysis Treatments

Dialysis error is a type of medical malpractice during hemodialysis services. A ProPublica malpractice investigation has found that the government has withheld critical data from dialysis centers that could help patients and families make informed decisions about hemodialysis treatment.

In for-profit centers, patient care is often an afterthought. In 2019, the New York Times reported that for-profit centers provided substandard care to patients.

To enforce quality standards and protect patients, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put a system to investigate complaints of potential malpractice at hemodialysis clinics.

The system is designed to identify and correct problems at individual clinics before they result in patient harm.

Profitability of the Leading Dialysis Facilities

According to an analysis of federal data by the Wall Street Journal, the operating profits of the 15 largest U.S. hemodialysis providers totaled more than $4 billion in 2018, a 25 percent increase from three years earlier.

The dialysis providers’ businesses were consistently profitable, with an average operating margin of 12.6 percent.

Adverse Side Effects Related to Dialysis Treatment

Preparing and looking for possible side effects and other vital signs is how staff can protect their kidney dialysis patients after the procedure.

Although a patient may look fine physically, several different complications may be going occur, including overdoses of acetic acid or acetate used in dialysis. Some common side effects are:

  • Hypotension: This is the most common complication that occurs with dialysis. Due to ultrafiltration of the blood and a lack of refilling of the cardiovascular system, the patient may become susceptible to low blood pressure that can make them dizzy and have a loss of balance, among other serious side effects.
  • Hypoxemia: Another common complication with hemodialysis is hypoxemia or low oxygen in the blood, which happens in 90% of patients. It can occur even when the patient is on a ventilator. If left untreated, a lack of oxygen can cause serious and even fatal side effects.
  • Cramps: Many patients undergoing dialysis can suffer from muscle cramps, especially towards the end of the procedure limiting their ability to move properly and heightening the risk of falling.

FDA Recall of Dialysis Drugs

In addition to other concerns with dialysis treatments, the FDA also had a Class 1 recall of the dialysis drugs GranuFlo and Naturalyte on March 29, 2016.

These drugs have been used for kidney dialysis and were found to increase bicarbonate levels which can lead to cardiovascular issues, heart attacks, and even death related to the hemodialysis drug.

The maker of these drugs, Fresenius, has been accused of knowing about the health risks prior to the FDA recall yet not alerting medical practitioners or the public.

Responsibility of Facilities to Prevent Dialysis Patient Falls

One common problem for patients on hemodialysis is the risk of falling and injuring themselves during and after dialysis, as many of the complications previously listed will affect their balance and ability to walk.

The medical staff needs to be aware of this risk, especially with patients who may already be at high risk for falls due to their age, mobility, or other health issues.

  • Environment: The area around the patient should be clear of obstacles and have a dry, non-slip floor. Making the rooms and hallways easy to walk in and navigate is essential to preventing falls in general.
  • Supervision: Patients have been known to become dizzy and fall from their chairs or bed while having dialysis. There needs to be supervision to ensure the patients are not at risk of falling.
  • Assistance: When the patient leaves the hemodialysis session, they may need help while walking due to dizziness or muscle cramps. Using a walker or wheelchair along with staff assistance may be required.

Hemodialysis is an essential procedure for people with chronic kidney disease, but it can cause severe problems above and beyond the kidney failure that it is designed to help.

The acid concentrate is used to maintain the pH balance in the hemodialysis fluid.

For-profit dialysis centers and non-profit dialysis centers that do dialysis need to be aware of the risks and know how to make sure their patients are kept safe from further harm, including falls and other possible side effects.

Dialysis Medical Malpractice Awards

$765,000 Settlement; Kidney Dialysis Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois

The patient in this dispute was a woman in her late seventies. She lived at a nursing home but could not communicate. The company that administered her dialysis sent a nurse to deliver the treatment.

The nurse did not notice that the patient’s arm was swollen. The nurse injected the needle into the fistula rather than the venous catheter without consulting the woman’s medical history or general condition.

The dialysis error caused excessive blood loss. She had to be transferred to a local hospital so they could suture her. Yet, even with that treatment, an infection complicated the prolonged bleeding problem. She died not long after this chain of events.

The patient’s four children survived her. They brought a wrongful death case against the hemodialysis company and the treating provider.

They alleged negligence, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. In an out-of-court settlement, the plaintiffs received $765,000 in compensation. That covered their damages, including over $100,000 in medical bills.

$2,205,000 Settlement; Kidney Dialysis Malpractice: Cook County, Illinois

The case involved the unexpected passing of a young mother. She was just thirty-five at the time of the events which gave rise to this lawsuit. Her doctors put her on a course of hemodialysis treatment.

During that care, she became infected due to the catheters they used. Lawyers for the woman’s estate sued.

They argued the defendant’s providers and facility were liable for medical malpractice and responsible for her death. They pointed to the dirty catheter, the failure to use a fistula or graft, and other kidney dialysis errors made in her treatment.

The case went up on appeal and had to be retried. However, in the end, the plaintiffs prevailed. They secured a settlement worth over $2 million.

$1,700,000 Settlement; Dialysis Malpractice: Cook County, Illinois

The patient was a male in his middle sixties. He had been undergoing dialysis treatment for over a week due to kidney failure. A nurse treating kidney failure tried to take out a catheter supplying the dialysis.

That removal caused him to suffer a major embolism. He died just a few weeks after this event from the effects caused by the embolism. His wife and children survived him. They sued for wrongful death.

They sought compensation for their pain, his pain, medical bills (over $100,000 of them), lost life expectancy, and other related damages. The defendants preferred a quiet settlement to a drawn-out trial. The family received $1.7 million.

Dialysis Malpractice Lawyers: Representing Dialysis Patients Injured at Dialysis Centers

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys are interested in speaking with you if you or a loved one suffered harm or death during a dialysis procedure. Contact us today.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC has successfully represented individuals in medical malpractice cases against dialysis clinics, non-profit centers, and for-profit dialysis centers.

Each case is indeed different, and we are ready and able to get to work for you. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or fill out a contact form for s free consultation to help you seek accountability. We operate on a contingency basis and never charge a fee without a recovery for you.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.


Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

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Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

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This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
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