For tens of thousands of people across the country, kidney dialysis is a life-saving treatment without which they would surely perish.
However, our Davie nursing home negligence attorneys know that the treatment is expensive, and too often patients are put at grave risk.
A report from investigative news site ProPublica recently detailed that many dialysis facilities report poor patient outcomes, with far too many deaths or severe illnesses caused by staffer negligence.
It’s worse for nursing home patients. A report by USA Today indicates that within one year of starting dialysis treatments, more than half of older nursing home residents die. Almost another third experience a significant decline in their abilities to perform even basic tasks, like feeding themselves.
We’re likely to see these kinds of issues balloon over the next decade, as baby boomers age. For one, those over the age of 75 are the fastest-growing group of dialysis patients. Secondly, baby boomers are known to have higher rates of the renal failure-causing virus hepatitis C.
Dialysis is a treatment that is usually performed about three days a week for roughly three or four hours each time. It involves patients having their blood pumped through a small machine, which then filters out the extra fluids, salts and harmful waste. This allows the body to maintain a good balance of chemicals like sodium and potassium and in turn keep blood pressure under control.
ProPublica found that despite the enormous costs we as a country shell out for these treatments (about $77,000 a year for each patient – more than any other developed country in the world), the outcomes are too often lacking.
Part of the problem is that facilities are often not manned full-time by a doctor or even a nurse. In many cases, you have LPNs or aides doing the work. That has led to major problems when needles either aren’t installed properly or become dislodged. In some cases, there are reports of aides panicking at the sight of blood when needles become dislodged, resulting in a delay in proper response action and care.
Federal inspection reports have also revealed that many dialysis facilities are sorely lacking with regard to cleanliness, pest control and prevention of cross-contamination infection, such as staph infections, HIV, hepatitis C and others.
Roughly 80 percent of these facilities are for-profit (research has been conducted into heightened problems with for-profit nursing homes versus not-for-profit facilities), About two-thirds of all centers are operated by two major chains. One of those, Fresenius, is currently facing numerous lawsuits over a dialysis IV drug it produces called GranuFlo, which reportedly puts patients at a markedly higher risk for stroke, cardiac arrest and death.
ProPublica maintains a searchable dialysis database for patients or family members interested in learning more about the facilities located near them. In Davie, one of the three facilities has had troubling results in recent federal inspections.
A review of the facility found that mortality rates were 65 percent worse than expected, hospital admissions nearly 30 percent higher than expected, number of days in the hospital more than 50 percent higher than expected and emergency room visits about 15 percent higher than expected. Additionally, rates of septicemia blood infections were well above both the state and national average. During the last inspection, 10 standard deficiencies were reported.
At another Davie dialysis center, mortality rates are 30 percent higher than expected, as were hospital admissions rates, At a third location, mortality rates are 25 percent higher than expected, as are hospital admissions, rates of septicemia and rates of other access-related infections.
It’s worth noting that nursing home patients should also expect that nursing home staff and doctors will closely monitor them as well following each treatment to ensure there have not been complications. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen either.
All of this suggests that older patients – particularly those who reside in nursing homes – should carefully weigh their options before having dialysis treatments. Those who receive negligent dialysis treatment should contact our offices as soon as possible.
Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
In Dialysis, Life-Saving Care at Great Risk, Cost, Nov. 9, 2010, By Robin Fields, ProPublica
Risks call dialysis into question for nursing home patients, October 10, 2009, By Rita Rubin, USA Today
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