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Kidney Dialysis Machine Contaminated with Bleach

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Friday, December 21, 2012

The kidney dialysis center in Town and Country injected eight patients with bleach or other cleansing chemicals at the beginning of December, and was subsequently investigated by federal Medicare officials.

The mistake, apparently due cleaning chemicals remaining in the water that was used by the dialysis machine, was described by representative of the dialysis center as a “one time human error.” It could also be termed “medical negligence.”

Reports of the story indicate all eight patients were expected to recover. However, these types of errors and mistakes could have severe consequences for patients. According to the Post-Dispatch, injuries from the presence of bleach or other cleansers in the blood stream can “include anemia, low oxygen, headache, fatigue and shortness of breath. In most serious cases, patients can experience seizures or comas and die.”

The Town and Country facility had much higher patient death rate than for patients of similar ages and heath condition. ProPublica reported that it was 88 percent higher and the Ferguson facility was 91 percent higher would have been expected. It is now under new management.

Dialysis facilities use bleach to clean the equipment, which takes the patient’s blood and filters it to remove toxins. In this case, the water used to clean the machine’s filters still contained cleansers, which should have been flushed out of the system prior to it being hooked up to a patient. The Post-Dispatch reports 400,000 people nationwide need dialysis because of problems with their kidneys.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Kidney dialysis center in Town and Country under investigation for injecting patients with cleanser,” Blythe Bernhard, December 06, 2012

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