Is There A Kidney Disease Epidemic In America?

If you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, you cannot afford to deal with careless or negligent healthcare providers. If you become a victim of medical malpractice while seeking kidney disease treatment, discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who is familiar with kidney disease and its consequences. Kidney disease treatment has advanced significantly in less than a century, and there’s no reason for kidney disease patients to suffer needlessly.

That wasn’t the case in the 1930s, when Dr. Willem Kolff first began developing an artificial kidney. Prior to that decade and prior to Dr. Kolff’s work, chronic kidney disease was inevitably a death sentence for most patients. During the next three decades, Dr. Kolff and other researchers developed the kidney dialysis procedure, a landmark medical breakthrough that now allows millions around the world to live with kidney injuries and failures.

The demand for kidney research and kidney disease research continues to grow in the 21st century. The World Health Organization reports that chronic kidney disease is the number twelve cause of death in the world and is increasing globally by eight percent every year.

In the United States alone, about 40 million of us struggle with kidney disease, while about 650,000 of us are dealing with kidney failure. Diabetes and high blood pressure are major contributors to what can only be described as a global and national kidney disease epidemic.

WHAT DOES THE U.S. SPEND ON KIDNEY DISEASE RESEARCH?

Earlier this year, a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that funding for kidney research and kidney disease prevention lags far behind the billions spent for research on other diseases.

The National Institute of Health spends less than half-a-billion dollars – from a $30 billion budget – on kidney disease studies, yet kidney disease still afflicts 40 million patients in the U.S. Despite the extent of the kidney disease epidemic, only about $14 per patient is marked for kidney disease research in the United States. More can be done.

Action needs to be quick, because the number of kidney disease sufferers continues to grow. In 2017, almost one in ten adults in the U.S. is struggling with diabetes, while a third of adults deal with high blood pressure. Those percentages likely mean millions more kidney disease patients in the years ahead.

More investment in research is imperative for saving lives and reducing the pressure that kidney disease puts on Medicare and the healthcare system as a whole. This year, Congress can invest in kidney research that could benefit millions of kidney disease patients in our country.

WHAT IS THE PROPOSAL NOW BEING CONSIDERED BY CONGRESS?

The proposed Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2017 would amend the current law that does not allow Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 who are on kidney dialysis to purchase Medigap, the supplemental insurance that covers the twenty percent of costs that Medicare does not pay.

Patients who require dialysis now pay about $7,200 a year just for their dialysis treatments, which are usually required three times a week. Additionally, these patients must deal with the out-of-pocket expense of visits to a doctor and services such as diabetic care.

Sponsored by Representatives Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, John Lewis of Georgia, and Peter Roskam of Illinois, the proposal would fund additional new research to enhance kidney disease treatment technologies. The bill also includes provisions to improve home dialysis services and palliative care services. Lawmakers can – and should – act on this proposed legislation before the end of the year.

Early and accurate diagnosis is imperative for every kidney disease patient. Anyone with a family history of kidney disease, and everyone age sixty and over, should be tested regularly for chronic kidney disease. Another threat that kidney disease patients may face is medical malpractice, which the Journal of the American Medical Association has identified as the number three cause of death in the United States.

The number of deaths caused by preventable errors in hospitals in the U.S. may be as high as 100,000 a year, according to several studies. Medical malpractice costs us more than $3.6 billion every year in the United States.

IF YOU ARE A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VICTIM, WHERE CAN YOU TURN?

When a doctor does not accurately diagnose someone’s kidney disease, the delay in treatment may exacerbate that patient’s condition, leading to severe complications. If you are a kidney disease patient who has been misdiagnosed in the past – or if you are misdiagnosed in the future – discuss your rights and options with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be able to recover monetary damages by pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The victims of medical malpractice are entitled by law to monetary compensation, but proving medical malpractice isn’t easy. Victims will need the sound advice and aggressive legal advocacy that only an experienced medical malpractice attorney who exclusively represents kidney disease patients can provide. If you’re a kidney disease patient and a victim of medical malpractice, you’ve been victimized twice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help.

Healthy kidneys are essential. If your kidneys do not work properly due to chronic kidney disease, you are at risk for a number of health problems. Kidney disease can almost always be detected easily with inexpensive laboratory testing, and an accurate and early diagnosis can often minimize the effects of kidney disease without a patient necessarily progressing to end-stage kidney failure. The diagnosis, however, must be accurate, and the treatment recommendation must be sound.

The kinds of medical mistakes that kidney disease patients face include misdiagnosis and a failure to diagnose, inappropriate treatments, improper prescriptions, unneeded surgeries, and surgical mistakes. Medical malpractice is defined by the law as the negligence of a healthcare professional that causes a decline in a patient’s medical condition, causes additional injury to the patient, or is responsible for a patient’s wrongful death.

While millions live with kidney disease in the United States, research tells us that far too many kidney disease patients are – or will be – the victims of medical malpractice. If you or someone you love has been a victim of misdiagnosis or any other medical malpractice while seeking treatment for kidney disease, speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your rights, your recourse, and your options for taking legal action.

By: Jed Kurzban

Medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Kurzban is happily married and the father of two.