Advances in medical research and technology have uncovered numerous links between poor kidney function and the progression of serious illnesses. It is the duty of nephrologists to diagnose injuries and disorders of the kidneys which may be the result of certain medical conditions or the cause of others. The ubiquity of unhealthy eating options and an epidemic of obesity and weight-related illnesses is resulting in a rising demand for these specialists and their actions can have life-changing impacts on the wellbeing and survival of patients. This is why the Chicago nephrologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are dedicated to representing the interests of every patient whose injuries were the result of poor medical decisions or negligence.
The Path to a Career in Nephrology is Challenging and Rewarding
According to the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the incidence of chronic kidney disease is slated to rise by over 27% before the year 2030. Most people are completely unaware of the importance their kidneys play in their overall health and the ability to prevent serious medical conditions. Diabetes is one of the numerous conditions that can damage the kidneys, for example, and damage to the kidneys may cause other major organs to fail. The good news is that it is possible for a patient to survive the failure of one or both kidneys as long as he or she receives the right medical care.
Nephrologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disorders and need to have an understanding of the other medical conditions that are often linked to kidney disease either as potential causes or resulting from an insufficient renal function. Before they can become nephrologists, medical students must first complete their medical degree, spend at least three years in residency and then three-year fellowship program. As it is with most specialists, these doctors must invest over a decade of their lives toward their education.
Our Chicago nephrology malpractice lawyers cannot understate the value of the work nephrologists do and their ability to allow many patients to live longer and happier lives, but it is also important to note that they are rewarded with extremely lucrative pay that should go hand and hand with high expectations. The median income for nephrologists is over $149,000 as hospital employees and about $300,000 if they work in outpatient settings.
Nephrologists in High Demand Due to Commonality of Kidney Disease
Roughly one third of the nation will be diagnosed with kidney disease at some point in their lifetimes. Disorders of the kidneys are more common than cancer, diabetes and heart disease and are often the root cause of these other serious conditions. Our kidneys play a vital role in cleansing our blood of toxins, managing water levels in our bodies, eliminating the waste that has been filtered out of our bloodstream and controlling our blood pressure. Renal failure is defined by the failure of the kidneys to perform these functions and can quickly turn into a life threatening condition.
A nephrologist’s role isn’t merely to diagnose and treat kidney disorders, but also to help patients adapt to the loss of a kidney and make changes to their diet and activity levels which will prevent or delay the onset of other health conditions. The conditions nephrologists diagnose and help patients manage include the following.
- High blood pressure— chronic kidney disease can result in elevated blood pressure and nephrologists may work cooperatively with cardiologists to both diagnose and treat the underlying causes of hypertension.
- Diabetes— while diabetes can be managed through the assistance of a primary care physician, most kidney disorders are caused by hypertension and diabetes, which is why a nephrologist may be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic patients at risk of developing kidney disease.
- Electrolyte imbalances— the kidneys play an integral role in managing hydration by eliminating the materials that we do not need from our blood. Electrolytes may be eliminated through the urine in excessive amounts when the kidneys are not functioning properly, which can result in severe electrolyte deficiencies and imbalances. Diabetics often suffer from kidney disorders because excess sugars are evacuated by the kidneys through urine, causing a cycle of extreme thirst and excessive urination that can overwork the kidneys as they try to restore balance.
- Chronic urinary tract infections— an urologist may refer a patient to a nephrologist in the event of recurring urinary tract infections due to the role the kidneys play in the elimination of bacteria and yeast from the body. There can be correlations between UTIs and kidney infections or poor renal function.
- Kidney stones— minerals such as calcium and other metals may form stones inside of the kidneys following an infection or due to other problems within the kidneys. These sharp stones must be passed through the urine, but can cause extreme pain when traveling through the urinary tract, requiring pain management in the majority of cases and surgical intervention to break up stones that are too large to pass on their own.
- Dialysis— in addition to maintaining the perfect mineral and electrolyte balance in the blood, the kidneys are responsible for removing toxins from it that may harm major organs or cause organ failure. Dialysis removes this waste and any fluids from the blood that are not needed so that patients can survive while waiting for a kidney transplant. Since dialysis cannot replicate the endocrine functions of the kidneys, such as the production of renin, calcitriol and erythropoietin, dialysis patients will eventually require a kidney replacement. While nephrologists do not administer dialysis treatments, they help patients manage them and are responsible for the diagnosis of renal failure.
- Referral to specialists— when patients require treatment measures that a nephrologist is not equipped to provide, they are referred to specialists in relevant medical specialties while continuing to monitor their progress and follow up with them after they have undergone surgical procedures or treatments.
When attempting to determine a diagnosis, a nephrologist may order blood tests, urinalysis, biopsy or ultrasound to aid in identifying the problem. Their failure to order the appropriate tests in a timely fashion can have long lasting or permanent consequences due to organ failure or fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
Nephrologists also coordinate with a variety of other specialists due to the correlation that kidney disorders have with conditions affecting other areas of the body. Some instances of renal failure may even stem from the mismanagement of these other disorders, such as hypertension or diabetes, and it can be difficult to determine which physician is ultimately responsible for any resulting injuries.
Injuries that Often Result from Nephrology Malpractice
Our Chicago nephrology malpractice lawyers have noticed that many of the injuries our clients have suffered stemmed from missed or delayed diagnosis. Other causes of malpractice can include misinterpreting test results, prescribing medication without consideration for the patient’s diet, health conditions or drug interactions with other prescriptions. The injuries which may result from failing to detect or treat kidney diseases can include the following.
- Heart disease or failure— kidney disease and cardiovascular disease often accompany each other due to the role that the kidneys play in regulating blood pressure and the substances that make up the blood itself.
- Neuropathy— electrolytes are important because they allow the body to function through the transmission of electrochemical impulses. An electrolyte imbalance can wreak havoc on the nervous system and cause permanent damage to large clusters of nerves, resulting in neuropathy. This condition may result in the loss of feeling, an experience of sharp pain or of pins and needles, or could impact motor function, vision and hearing in the most severe cases.
- Death due to renal failure— renal failure can be deadly, even though it doesn’t need to be. When patients receive treatment in a timely manner, they are able to extend their lives while waiting for more permanent solutions. Undiagnosed renal failure can quickly result in the failure of the body’s major organs, however, ultimately claiming the patient’s life.
As chronic kidney disease continues to be linked to additional health problems, the demand for nephrologists will continue to grow. It is important that these specialists are able to quickly identify symptoms of kidney disease and order the appropriate tests to confirm their diagnoses. When the quality of patients’ lives rests in the balance, mistakes and failure to act cannot be excused— especially when such mistakes result in injuries or deaths that could have been easily prevented.
Proficient Nephrology Malpractice Lawyers Dedicated to Your Interests
If you have suffered serious injuries due to the failed diagnosis of a kidney disorder or improper handling of your medical treatment, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC may be able to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to for the payment of your current medical expenses, cost of future care, lost wages, pain and suffering or the loss of a loved one. Our medical malpractice law team is made up of lawyers that have many years of legal training and experience in the area of medical law so that you can be sure you have access to an attorney that knows how to win your case.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our award-winning Chicago nephrologist medical malpractice attorneys so that we can review all of the information we need to assess your case and discuss your legal options. After we have had the opportunity to investigate the matter, we can let you know how we can assist you and just what you can expect if you choose to pursue a claim. In an effort to provide top notch legal services to anyone in need, regardless of financial concerns, we work on a contingency basis only. This means that unless we secure compensation on your behalf, our services are free.