You would think going to dialysis is a routine thing. You have to go every other day to “wash your blood” of contaminants. Your kidneys are not working well enough to filter out all the impurities in your system, so you need to have dialysis on a regular basis.

How do they connect the dialysis equipment to you? Do they need to put a needle in like an IV every single time? How does the blood go in and come out after it has been rinsed clean?

The answer is with something called a “shunt." They shunt connects the arteries and the vein together and allows easy access for the dialysis center. To insert a shunt requires a surgical procedure. The nurses at the dialysis center are required to check that the shunt is clean, healthy-appearing and not infected. If the patient begins to bleed from the shunt or there is an infection, the patient requires immediate treatment before continuing with dialysis in that arm.

Here is how a woman came home one day to find her husband in a total bloodbath that led to his death. She came home from lunch and immediately noticed blood on the floor from the front doorstep all the way to the bathroom toward the back of the house on the first floor. As she followed the blood on the floor she found her husband dead on the bathroom floor.  The scene that greeted her was horrendous. There was blood everywhere.

It was on the ceiling, it was on the wall, it was on the floor, it was soaked on a towel and bandages. The police officers arrived on the scene and they thought it was a murder scene. Further investigation by detectives quickly revealed that this had nothing to do with any criminal activity. Instead, it had to do with his shunt that had ruptured causing him to bleed to death on the floor of his home.

The New York City medical examiner did an autopsy, which is a physical examination of the patient, after he died. They came to the conclusion that the reason the shunt ruptured was because it was infected and the hole, through which dialysis access is obtained was had become severely enlarged, causing the rupture. Medical experts we consulted confirmed that the patient's infection should have been diagnosed and treated immediately. Had the nurses and technicians recognized that he had a problem with his shunt, he would have been sent to the emergency room and received treatment for the infection and likely had another shunt inserted into the other arm.

The dialysis center's failure to timely recognize and have the patient sent for immediate treatment led to his shunt rupturing leading to a bloodbath of a nightmare on that fateful day.

Why do I tell you this story? I tell you this because you may find yourself in a similar situation were you received medical care and treatment and you have questions about whether the treatment was appropriate. You have questions about why you or your loved one suffered significant injury and want to know whether everything was done right.

My suggestion is to pick up the phone and call me, since I answer questions like these every day. You can reach me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected]. I welcome your call.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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