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Kidneys Can Be Hit Hard by Medical Malpractice

By Grant Law Office on August 6, 2019

Today, Grant Law Office would like to discuss an aspect of medical malpractice we’ve had substantial experience with: kidney failure due to medical professionals’ errors. Two of our recent clients suffered different forms of malpractice, but both ended up with kidney failure and are awaiting transplants.

Though one kidney can function passably for most people, the loss of two kidneys means you need medication, dialysis to filter your blood, and ultimately, a brand new kidney. There is no other cure at this time. Let’s see how things can go wrong in the hospital.

How Your Kidneys Work

Toxins and waste products are removed from your blood by your two kidneys, which are located on either side of your spine, nestled beneath the ribs and surrounded by fat and connective tissue. The descending aorta brings blood to them, and cells inside the kidneys remove waste, add electrolytes, and monitor your fluid levels by adding more or less liquid to the blood. The waste is removed from your body through urine, and your kidneys send the cleansed blood back out into the bloodstream, performing this vital task several times every day.

The kidneys are practically the first stop for your newly-oxygenated blood after it leaves the heart, and the kidneys require a steady stream of blood to function—also, sufficient blood flow is needed to keep the kidney’s tissues alive. The kidneys also assist in producing red blood cells. As you can see, the heart and the kidneys are intimately connected. So if a doctor treats a patient’s heart attack alone without taking steps to protect the kidneys, they can suffer serious damage. And once a kidney’s nephron cells die, they are gone for good.

What Happened to Our Clients?

After an operation, our client’s blood pressure started dropping. His drains had blood in them, and his levels of hemoglobin were low. The surgeon was called twice, but didn’t return for hours. Meanwhile, our client lost 5 liters of blood—and there are only 4.5 to 5.5 liters in the entire body. Our client went into kidney failure on the operating table, where surgical staff stabilized him to save his life. However, he now requires ongoing dialysis and is on the kidney transplant list. In addition, he went blind in one eye due to the lack of oxygen caused by the decreased blood flow.

Another one of our clients was going in for a routine colonoscopy. Before the procedure, she was given a pill called Osmoprep to prepare her gastrointestinal tract. However, this drug has a black box warning (the strictest warning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives) saying that it increases the risk of kidney failure in patients who are older, female, and taking an Ace Inhibitor drug. That description fit our client perfectly. At CVS, the pharmacist who filled her prescription overrode a pop-up warning cautioning him of the interaction between Osmoprep and our client’s existing prescription drug. After taking Osmoprep, our client suffered a serious reaction and is now in stage IIIB of kidney failure. We filed a lawsuit against both her gastroenterologist and the pharmacy.

There are two main ways we see patients suffer kidney failure because of a healthcare provider: by losing too much blood post-operatively, and by being given a medication that destroys kidney function. Infections can also ruin your kidneys, and hospital-acquired infections are rampant in the United States.

Signs of Renal Failure

At first, your kidneys may not show symptoms of being strained or damaged until they have severely declined. Here are some danger signs that show you are already in distress:

Excess fluid buildup in the tissues may cause:

  • swelling or edema in the extremities, especially the legs and ankles
  • weakness and fatigue
  • shortness of breath (often abbreviated “SOB” by medical professionals)

A buildup of waste in the body may cause:

  • abnormal heart rhythms, due to too much potassium in the bloodstream
  • increase in urine production
  • loss of appetite and/or anemia
  • breathing problems
  • vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration

Doctors need to order a urinalysis, test your blood pressure, and move quickly to diagnose kidney problems. Kidney malfunction can be easy to miss at the beginning, but it can quickly become fatal if left untreated. If the patient does not pass away, he or she may be left in a coma, or with lifelong renal failure.

As we’ve seen, kidney failure can also be caused by dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and bad reactions. And a failure to diagnose kidney trouble in the first place may also be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Call a Top Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Damage to the kidneys is always serious; and Grant Law Office in Atlanta only handles serious injury or medical malpractice cases. We are not a high-volume firm, which means we pay more attention to individual clients. Our husband-and-wife team believes in strategical planning and thorough evidence-gathering—that’s how we prove your case to a jury.  We recover six-figure sums on average, but every case is different and we cannot guarantee results. We can, however, promise that we will leave no stone unturned if we take your case. Call (404) 995-3955 or (866) 249-5513 to schedule a free case review today.

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*Wayne Grant has been practicing law since 1979. Grant Law Office was founded in 2000.