Nearly 400,000 Americans receive dialysis treatment for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Demand for the treatment, which functions like an artificial kidney, is only expected to rise as baby-boomers age and the incidence of diseases like diabetes increases. Many people rely on dialysis to keep them alive and functioning until they are able to receive a kidney transplant.
As the need for dialysis treatment has increased, so has the number of facilities available to provide treatment. This might seem to be a good thing, but there is reason for caution. The increase in dialysis facilities is largely due to a rise in the prevalence for-profit dialysis centers. These for-profit facilities have been linked with an increase in complications and mortality for ESRD patients.
Freestanding for-profit dialysis clinics make up an increasing majority of dialysis centers in the United States, and their share of the market is growing as hospital based and non-profit clinics are diminishing in number.
The hope is that for-profit centers' commitment to both patient care and profitability would lead them to operate more efficiently. Unfortunately, research has suggested that cutting corners in care, rather than efficiency, has been responsible for the higher profits in these centers. Some of the measures taken may not comply with the applicable medical standard of care, and may rise to the level of medical malpractice.
These facilities may have smaller and more poorly-trained staffs than hospital-based centers. In addition, dialysis patients tend to receive treatment at for-profit centers for a shorter period of time. The lack of continuity of care has been linked to higher mortality rates, though causality is not clear.
At some facilities, nephrologists (doctors who specialize in kidney treatment) may not sufficiently monitor patients' blood work and dialysis medication. There have also been reports of problems, such as clotting, with dialysis access routes, which may necessitate additional surgery and lead to complications.
Of course, problems and complications may arise with any medical procedure. However, when the amount and type of care patients receive is dictated by the desire for profit, rather than what makes medical sense for the patient, malpractice is more likely.
Studies have shown a significantly higher risk of mortality for patients who receive dialysis at a for-profit facility, especially one operated by a large chain. If you or a loved one suffered serious complications following treatment at a for-profit dialysis center, you owe it to yourselves to learn if the outcome was unavoidable or due to medical malpractice.
This is not always easy to discern, but an experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney can help guide you through the process. If your medical facility has committed malpractice, a lawsuit is worthwhile, both to achieve compensation for you and to hold the facility accountable. An ethical and experienced attorney will work with you to determine whether a lawsuit has a good likelihood of succeeding. You only have a limited time after malpractice occurs to file a lawsuit, so don't delay in getting the help you need.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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