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Studies have shown that between 15,000 and 40,000 people die each year because of a failure to diagnose and treat Acute Kidney Injury (previously called acute renal failure). If injury or death results from sub-standard care it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.
Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) is responsible for nearly eight times as many deaths as the superbug MRSA was at its peak. Deaths from AKI could easily be prevented and although dehydration is one of the main causes of the condition, there are several other risk factors across virtually every age group.
AKI can develop very quickly in people already ill with conditions such as heart failure or diabetes or those admitted to hospital with infections and can be a consequence of any major surgery because the kidneys can be deprived of blood flow during the procedure.
The elderly are particularly at risk of acute kidney failure, especially when there are past medical complications such as diabetes and liver disease. AKI can strike suddenly without any warning but more usually chronic renal failure develops over a number of years, often with symptoms such as shortness of breath, excessive urination, skin rashes or frequent fatigue confused with other ailments.
AKI can also affect youngsters and teenagers because of a failure to recognise and treat conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) reflux nephropathy and nephritis. Unless properly and regularly monitored, some common medicines such as Mesalazine, prescribed to control the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, can also lead to kidney damage.
A basic failure by health professionals to adequately monitor a patient’s fluid levels, recognise the symptoms of AKI and a failure to treat the condition in a timely manner can result in significant injury and give rise to a claim for compensation.
Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys stop working properly by diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned. In some cases, kidney injury or kidney failure may be a temporary problem and dialysis may only be needed whilst the kidneys recover.
Often, dialysis is used as an interim measure while the patient is waiting for a kidney transplant. Dialysis may be required until such time as a suitable donor kidney becomes available. If a kidney transplant isn't suitable for whatever reason, dialysis may be needed for life.
There are two main types of dialysis: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Haemodialysis is the most familiar, which involves filtering the blood by passing it through an external filtering machine. This is usually carried out three days a week, with each session lasting around four hours.
Peritoneal dialysis uses the inside lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) as the filter, rather than a machine. The peritoneum contains thousands of tiny blood vessels, making it a useful filtering device just like the kidneys. A thin tube (catheter) is left in place permanently just above the navel and blood and excess fluids are drained out into a bag. This procedure usually takes about 30-40 minutes and normally needs to be repeated around four times a day.
Kidney transplant is a longer term solution. Replacement kidneys can come from compatible living donors (usually close relations) or deceased donors. The availability of kidneys and other organs for transplant depends on the willingness of the public to donate and more details about how to do this can found on the NHS Choices website.
How do I make a kidney injury claim?
These cases are complex and there is a time limit within which you can make a claim. It is therefore vitally important that you speak to an expert medical negligence solicitor at Access Legal as quickly as possible for a free initial consultation. We will give you objective advice about the options available to you and the next steps you should consider.
The most frequent causes for adults developing AKI are hypertension and diabetes. For most teenagers, AKI or chronic kidney disease is a consequence of either congenital disorders or untreated diseases such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or nephritis when the kidney becomes inflamed.
Most often UTI results in painful urination but other symptoms associated with these conditions such as persistent lower back and abdominal pain, frequent severe headaches and poor appetite can be confused with other conditions that commonly affect youngsters. A failure to correctly diagnose and treat these diseases in the very young and the very old can quickly lead to irreparable, long term kidney injury.
Acute kidney injury, particularly in the young, can usually resolve itself if the condition is recognised and treated quickly enough. New guidelines from the National Institute of Care and Clinical Excellence (NICE) about best practice in treating people with AKI highlight the need for regular checking of electrolytes and physiological observations as well as adequate senior review.
However, even if fatal consequences are averted, delayed diagnosis or sub-standard treatment could still lead to chronic kidney problems that result in permanent damage which may require either a kidney transplant or regular dialysis treatment.
That could entail modifications to the home to accommodate any equipment required and it is likely that the young person’s lifestyle would have to change dramatically. A successful compensation claim can help to recover costs for rehabilitation, adaptation of the home and any other care needed.
Do I have a kidney injury claim?
To succeed in a claim for kidney injury caused by medical negligence you will need to prove with independent medical expert opinion that on the balance of probabilities (i.e. 50% or more) the care you received from the medical practitioners was below the standard of care expected of a reasonable and competent body of medical practitioners and as a consequence of that substandard care you suffered an injury that would not have otherwise occurred.
The amount of compensation you will be able to claim will depend on the extent of the injury that you have suffered, the impact that the injury has had on your life and ability to work and the subsequent loss of income, the costs that you have incurred and the amount of care that you need.
Access Legal’s expert medical negligence solicitors have experience in dealing with these types of claims and will be able to investigate the claim for you and obtain the evidence you need to prove your claim.
Access Legal’s kidney injury solicitors are acknowledged experts in their field, working alongside charities such as Danielle’s Flutterbyes aimed at younger victims of AKI. Our legal team are noted for handling complex cases like yours with sensitivity, determination and persistence.Why Access Legal