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Misdiagnosis and Failure to Refer to a Specialist Leads to Kidney Failure and Dialysis Treatment

Posted on by in Medical Malpractice


Recently, we had a Florida medical malpractice client by the name of Fatima. While we care about all our clients, Fatima's story struck us. Around 2014, Fatima's primary care doctor started noticing abnormalities in her blood work and urine results but negligently refused to refer her to a specialist.

Meantime, the Florida medical practice where Fatima was a Florida medical patient was closed down. As the practice had multiple locations, she started seeing another medical professional in a different location. Once this doctor saw her results, he referred her to a cardiologist and from there the cardiologist referred her to a nephrologist (kidney doctor). That's when Fatima finally had a diagnose and found out she had total kidney failure or end-stage renal disease, due to lupus and that she needed dialysis.

Fatima is currently having dialysis treatment and will have to keep doing dialysis until she gets a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, lupus is an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure yet. The danger is that, even after a kidney transplant, the disease may start to become active again and attack the new kidney. Most people can expect a transplant to last a decade or more, but they may need to get dialysis and another kidney transplant down the line.

As the saying goes, "timing is everything." The danger of lupus can range from light to severe. Early diagnosis, the right medication, and proper medical treatment can keep the disease in a chronic, but manageable phase, so it does not progress to end-stage renal disease.

After finding out her diagnosis, Fatima decided she wanted to go forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit for her initial doctors' failure to diagnose her condition and failure to do their due diligence.

Lupus Misdiagnosis

Lupus is a commonly misdiagnosed autoimmune disease. Patients may develop an overactive and hyper-protective immune system that damages both harmful foreign organisms and healthy native systems, such as organs. This disease can affect any organ or group of organs, resulting in inflammation and organ failure.

When lupus attacks the kidneys, the term used for the disease is lupus nephritis. In the most severe cases of lupus nephritis, the kidneys may fail and the patient will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Lupus is more common in women ages 15-50 and lupus nephritis mostly impacts and is more severe in African Americans and Hispanics.

Unfortunately, misdiagnosis of lupus is not uncommon because many of its warning signs and symptoms could be attributed to other diseases such as Lyme disease or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Getting the right medications and procedures for any disease starts with getting an accurate and timely diagnosis that identifies the condition you have. When you are not told you have a condition or it's missed, treatment is delayed, which may make it less easily treated and more serious once it is caught. When a doctor gets your illness wrong, you may additionally be harmed by the ineffective or unnecessary treatment you receive.

Healthcare is complex, but many medical errors are prevented when providers follow proper procedures. If you or a family member have been injured and suspect medical negligence, you can protect your legal rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our medical malpractice attorney can pursue compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.

Dialysis and Kidney Transplant for End-Stage Renal Disease

In the United States, millions suffer from the symptoms of kidney disease. Due to the subtle nature of many symptoms, for some patients, the cause of kidney disease is never correctly determined and many live with the disease for many years without realizing it.

The right treatment depends on the precise type of kidney failure, the degree of kidney damage that has occurred, and the point in the disease process when a diagnosis is made. Lupus nephritis, for example, is treated using prescription drugs such as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs.

End-stage renal disease is the total or near-total loss of kidney function and is a permanent condition. People suffering from end-stage renal failure must receive a kidney transplant or go on dialysis. Kidney failure needs to be treated immediately. It's a serious condition that prevents the body from filtering waste from the blood. If the condition worsens, a person can likely experience seizures and sometimes go into a coma.

If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, including a misdiagnosis, it can be wise to examine your legal options. In many cases, compensation for damages stemming from medical malpractice could be available.

Lack Of Testing Or Late Referral for Kidney Disease

If doctors had tested and referred people who suffer the ill effects of kidney disease to specialists as early as possible many of them would be much healthier. Urine tests and possibly a biopsy in the early stages can lead to an accurate diagnosis and a correct treatment.

General practitioners are mostly not trained or equipped to treat kidney disease, so when tests indicate kidney abnormalities, failing to refer the patient to a kidney specialist may be medical negligence. Kidney doctors test and treat most of their patients on the basis of referrals from general practitioners.

With the proper approach, kidney diseases can usually be stopped at the chronic stage and sometimes reversed. That is why a negligent treatment that involves kidney disease puts lives at risk.

When it comes to dealing with a failure to issue a referral, medical malpractice claims are made when these situations occur:

  • Poor examination resulting in a failure to order diagnostic tests, or a failure to recognize a serious injury
  • Poor overall evaluation of symptoms
  • Development or worsening of injuries or illnesses as the result of a failure to refer
  • Misdiagnosis of a condition, an error that would not have happened if the case was in the hands of a specialist

The costs of patient harm can include:

  • Further treatment costs. When a patient is not referred to a specialist, an injury or illness could become worse and require additional treatment. This cost can be included in an injury compensation claim.
  • Loss of income. A patient may be required to take additional time off work to receive treatment.
  • Emotional distress. A great deal of pain can cause much distress for both the patient and his or her family.

If you, or a close family member, experienced kidney failure or advanced kidney disease and suspect you have been harmed by medical negligence, you can bring a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. You can recover compensation for

  • Medical costs
  • Dialysis
  • Medications
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other expenses

When you suspect medical negligence made your condition worse, you should talk to an attorney about your suspicions. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can investigate if medical malpractice played a role by reviewing your medical records with the assistance of a doctor.

If your doctor failed to properly test for kidney disease or to refer you to a specialist when that was the reasonable thing to do, talk to an attorney to see if you have a case. At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, our experienced lawyer is here to provide you with the legal help you need to get the compensation you deserve for the damage to your health. Schedule a free consultation by calling us or using our contact page.

Damage to the kidneys is always serious. And The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary in Miami only handles serious medical malpractice cases. We are a firm that pays special attention to clients. That's how we can prove your case to a jury when needed. We recover six-figure sums, but every case is different and we cannot guarantee results. We can, however, promise that we will thoroughly gather evidence and strategically plan if we take your case.

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.