How The Level Of Care You Receive Affects Your Kidney Disease (And Your Rights)

It is no surprise that chronic kidney disease – CKD – can be extremely tough on anyone’s emotions.

However, some recent findings have been published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology which indicate that the level and standard of care that a CKD patient is receiving can strongly influence – positively or negatively – that patient’s emotional perspective.

If you are dealing with CKD – or if you love someone who is – keep reading. This will be a brief discussion about what kind of care chronic kidney disease patients should expect – and what their rights are if the level of that care falls below the accepted professional standard.

WHAT HAVE RESEARCHERS FOUND REGARDING MEDICAL CARE AND CKD?

When a team of researchers interviewed patients with late-stage chronic kidney disease at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle, Washington, three predominant themes emerged:

1. When healthcare providers appear to lack empathy or insight into a patient’s CKD experience, the patient may feel distrust, isolation, alienation, and or abandonment.

2. Patients are also affected by the way their healthcare services are provided and organized. A smooth operation engenders confidence. Mistakes and confusion on the part of healthcare providers and facility staffers can trigger distrust and/or anxiety.

3. Many chronic kidney disease patients struggle emotionally and often blame themselves for being ill. It doesn’t help that many healthcare providers seem to push patients through the healthcare system in a way that is perceived by patients as insensitive and impersonal.

WHAT WERE THE GOALS AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE RESEARCHERS?

Research team leader Dr. Anne O’Hare explains: “Our questions were intentionally open-ended and we encouraged patients to talk freely about what was important to them.”

“It was striking to us,” Dr. O’Hare writes, “that strong themes emerged related to patients’ emotional experience of illness even though we did not ask any questions that were specifically designed to learn about this.”

Dr. O’Hare’s team hopes that their research will give healthcare providers a greater awareness and understanding of chronic kidney disease patients, their emotions, and their reactions.

WHEN DOES MEDICAL MALPRACTICE HAPPEN?

In the worst-case scenario, when a chronic kidney disease patient’s medical care falls below the accepted professional standard, medical malpractice can happen, and a patient could be seriously injured or suffer a rapid and dangerous decline in health.

If you have recently been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, you should know that millions of CKD sufferers are able to manage chronic kidney disease with only minor inconveniences. If you follow your doctor’s advice, you will probably stay reasonably healthy for years to come.

But if you are a chronic kidney disease patient and you believe that you are or have been a victim of medical malpractice, you must arrange at once to discuss your legal rights and options with a medical malpractice attorney. Don’t wait another day.

HOW IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DEFINED?

Medical professionals are obligated both legally and professionally to provide their patients with a “reasonable” standard of care, which means competent, professional healthcare comparable to what other healthcare providers offer in similar circumstances.

Specifically, healthcare professionals should:

1. order the tests that are standard and routine given a patient’s condition
2. examine those test results promptly
3. consult with a specialist when necessary
4. send you to a nephrologist – a kidney specialist – if CKD is suspected

When doctors and other healthcare professionals fail to provide chronic kidney disease patients with a reasonable standard of medical care, they are negligent, but it is not necessarily medical malpractice.

WHEN DOES NEGLIGENCE BECOME MALPRACTICE?

Medical negligence only becomes medical malpractice when the negligence of a healthcare provider is a direct cause of harm or injury to a patient.

Of course, every case of medical malpractice is unique, and each allegation of medical malpractice must be carefully scrutinized from both the medical and legal angles.

If medical malpractice has caused you injury or harm, or if your medical condition declined as a result of medical malpractice, you are entitled under the law in all fifty states to monetary compensation, and you have the right to take legal action.

WHAT WILL A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM ACCOMPLISH?

A successful medical malpractice claim can reimburse you for your additional healthcare needs and related expenses, and in some cases for your personal pain and suffering as well.

Chronic kidney disease is manageable when it is diagnosed early and accurately. However, a failure to obtain an early, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment can lead to a lifetime of medications and dialysis, the need for a kidney transplant, or even a complete kidney failure.

Chronic kidney disease patients should ask their healthcare providers the questions that they believe are important, and they should expect detailed, comprehensive answers. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by any doctor or by any healthcare facility.

As a chronic kidney disease patient, if you think or feel that something is not right, speak up immediately. As the researchers in the Seattle study found, it is important to be treated by doctors and nurses you trust.

Ask plenty of questions – to ensure that your doctors know the answers, and for your own piece of mind. Jed Kurzban, a medical malpractice lawyer based in South Florida, urges CKD patients to be pro-active and ask plenty of questions.

Attorney Kurzban says, “Don’t listen and accept. Be an advocate for your own health. Question the doctor and be satisfied with the answers – don’t allow yourself to be dismissed or brushed off because of time. Fight for your right to know more. This is YOUR health, not the doctor’s.”

HOW CAN A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWYER HELP?

If you become a victim of medical malpractice while you are seeking treatment for chronic kidney disease, it is genuinely imperative to take legal action – both for yourself and for other chronic kidney disease patients in the future.

If you are a victim of medical malpractice as well as a CKD patient, discuss your rights and options with a medical malpractice lawyer before you make any final decisions.

You should also know that every state has established a statute of limitations that restricts the amount of time you have to take legal action after an incident of medical malpractice. In most states, that statute of limitations is two, three, or four years from the date of the incident.

IF YOU ARE A MALPRACTICE VICTIM, WHEN DO YOU NEED TO ACT?

Do not wait two years to take action. If you were injured or if your health has declined due to an incident of medical malpractice, you genuinely need to speak to a malpractice lawyer right away.

Healthcare providers who negligently harm others – others who are already suffering – can be held accountable. Medical malpractice simply cannot be tolerated. It endangers lives.

Don’t hesitate to act if you have been hurt by medical malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will handle your case and fight aggressively for compensation – and for justice – on your behalf.

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.