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Dialysis unit malfunction involved in wrongful death suit

The wife of a man who died after using a home dialysis machine filed a lawsuit in Louisiana on June 10. The suit maintains that the unit he was given was not working properly and that the health care company who provided it did not respond appropriately.

The suit is asking for compensatory damages related to funeral costs and medical expenses. It also lists pain and suffering, fear of death, loss of consortium and lost income and support.

In the suit, the man's wife maintains that as part of her husband's home dialysis program, he used the dialysis unit on June 11, 2013. However, the treatment that day continued longer than it normally did because the unit's cycler would not shut off. She said her husband contacted the company, who gave him the unit, but they did nothing. The next day, the suit continues, the man lost consciousness and died.

The plaintiff's argument against the health care company involves, she says, their lack of instructions for the dialysis unit. She also states her husband died because the prolonged dialysis treatment removed essential nutrients such as potassium that could lead to a myocardial infarction.

The health care company, in this case, bore the responsibility of instructing their patient on the proper use of the equipment they provided. Ignoring a patient's complaint and not instructing them to go to the hospital may be considered negligent behavior. In addition, the unit itself may have had a product defect, and the manufacturer might be held partly responsible for the malfunction.

In structuring a wrongful death suit for a similar case, an attorney may review a product's history as well as a health care company's lack of response and instruction. Medical experts might also be called upon to evaluate the decedent's medical records.

Source: The Louisiana Record, "Healthcare company sued for wrongful death due to malfunctioning dialysis machine", Kyle Barnett, July 07, 2014

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