April 22, 2012

Illinois Dialysis Lawsuit Highlights Risks of Negligent Treatment

by Levin & Perconti

An Illinois medical malpractice case recently ended stemming from errors made during dialysis treatment that took the life of a local woman. NBC Chicago reported on the tragic situation which left a local family trying to put the pieces together to figure out what happened to their 65-year old mother.

The victim in this case had lived in a nursing home for about a year as she dealt with congestive heart and kidney failure. Fortunately, her family was eventually able to arrange for the woman to come home and be cared for by the family. Obviously, when health allows it most families prefer to have their loved ones close by. It worked in this situation so long as the senior was able to get dialysis treatment thrice weekly. Luckily the children were able to arrange for the treatment at a nearby clinic in Berwyn.

However, things went downhill quickly.

After dropping her off for only her third-ever treatment at the facility, the woman’s daughter’s received an emergency call saying that their mother was being taken to the emergency room. When they arrived at the hospital they were told that the situation was dire. Some sort of dialysis mistake had thrown their mother onto life support. A few days later she passed away.

In the aftermath, the dialysis center was providing very little information about what went wrong. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are very familiar with the stonewalling that many families face as they try to get answers following these tragedies. Eventually the family contacted medical malpractice attorneys to get to the bottom of the troubling situation.

The attorneys were able to demand answers and obtain records which offer the most complete picture of what happened on during what was supposed to be the routine dialysis visit. According to a complaint filed with the court in a subsequent Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit, a technician at the clinic did a “reversal” of dialysis line—a task for which he was apparently unqualified to perform. Errors were made at that time, as the lines were not properly secured. As a result, the woman began hemorrhaging. Alarms went off on the machine which indicated something was wrong, but those alarms were ignored. It was this series of errors that combined to lead to the woman’s passing. If medical caregivers had stepped in and prevented any one of these problems the woman would likely still be with her family today. Eventually the Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit was settled out of court by the family with the dialysis clinic.

The tragic story is another reminder of the need for local families to make careful selections when deciding what clinic and hospitals to use for dialysis treatments. Part of the assessment should consider mortality and infection rates for the clinics. But other factors are involved including how sick the patient, the location of the clinic to one’s home, the patient’s age, and the likelihood of getting a kidney transplant in the future. All these factors should be taken together and discussed with a doctor when making the decision.

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