Patient Dies after Going Too Long without Dialysis; Claims to Proceed against Dialysis Center
August 5, 2019 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
What's the news. In a lawsuit stemming from the death of a dialysis patient who went too long between treatments, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the nephrologist. However, the appellate court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the dialysis center defendants, letting proceedings continue against them. When the patient presented for hemodialysis one evening, the nephrologist determined that the patient's catheter was clotted and that the patient thus could not undergo dialysis. The nephrologist and a nurse gave the patient multiple options, including going to a hospital that evening for both declotting and hemodialysis. The patient, who was a physician, instead wanted to have a colleague declot his catheter the next day. The nephrologist and the nurse told the patient that if he chose to have the colleague declot the catheter, he should undergo dialysis at a hospital immediately afterward, immediately come to the center for dialysis if the declotting was done by noon, or, if not done by noon, have dialysis at an alternate location of the dialysis center that same afternoon. The patient insisted that he could return to the dialysis center in time. The next day, the colleague declotted the patient's catheter, but the patient did not leave the colleague's office until 12:45 p.m. at the earliest. According to the patient's son, who accompanied the patient, they arrived at the dialysis center at about 1:45 p.m. The plaintiff allegedly asked for dialysis but a technician refused because the center would soon close. The son also stated that the technician asked the plaintiff how he was feeling and, when the patient said he felt fine, told the patient he could wait until the next morning for dialysis.