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Did My Medication Cause My Kidney Disease?18th Feb 2022

by Lydia Barnett on 18th Feb 2022

Contact Lydia Barnett

Increasingly we are seeing cases whereby patients have had a delayed diagnosis and treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) by their doctors or consultants.

In some cases this can result in patients being admitted to hospital as an emergency, requiring immediate dialysis treatment and being placed on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. 

This understandably comes as a complete shock and is traumatic for these patients.

There are a number of important issues involved when considering a kidney disease case, including the cause of the kidney failure and whether it could have been completely avoided.


Did My Medication Cause My Kidney Disease?

All medication has side effects – and the stronger the drugs you’re taking, the greater the risk of unintended harm. 

Some medicines your doctor prescribes can damage your kidneys as a side effect.

These drugs can include some blood pressure and ulcer medicines; antibiotics; chemotherapy treatment; HIV medicines; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; dyes used to help diagnose conditions.

If you do not suffer from any side effects, you may not feel any initial symptoms. So you may not find out that side effects have permanently damaged your kidneys until it’s too late.
 

Did Your Doctor Fail To Spot The Warning Signs?

In most cases it is important for your treating doctors to carry out regular blood tests and monitoring, to ensure that your kidneys are not being affected by your medication.

If they are, then the medication may need to be changed or the dose lowered.

But what if they failed to carry out those tests? Or they ran the tests but failed to act on them? They could have continued prescribing your medication without realising the injuries they were causing.

And only when you start to feel low, weak and lacking energy does the hospital diagnose problems with your kidneys. Other symptoms can include producing less urine, shortness of breath and nausea. But by then the damage is done. You will need dialysis or a kidney transplant. In some cases you may need more than one transplant in your life time.

If your doctors did not diagnose and treat developing kidney disease and you have suffered irreversible damage to your kidneys as a result, compensation claims can run into millions – between £1.5 million and £3 million.

In some cases you may have a right to settle for a lump sum now and return to court in the future, if one of more transplants fail, to obtain further compensation – it is important to protect you against all risks that can occur in your lifetime as a result of your doctor’s negligence.

We recently settled a case for £550,000 whereby the claimant suffered undiagnosed kidney failure as a result of her inflammatory bowel medication. This means that she will require two kidney transplants in her lifetime, with earlier diagnosis, these could have been completely avoided. She claimed for associated private doctor consultations, loss of earnings and care and assistance.

A provision was agreed whereby if one or more of the transplants failed in her lifetime, she can return to court to claim additional damages.


My Kidney Failure Couldn’t Have Been Prevented. Can I Still Claim?

In some cases kidney failure results from an hereditary or naturally occurring condition and cannot be prevented. But what if routine blood tests reveal a deterioration of your kidney function and your doctors didn’t do anything?

What if you reported symptoms such as extreme fatigue or high blood pressure, which did not get investigated.

For example if you are diabetic, or have high blood pressure, you are likely to undergo regular routine blood tests and are at a greater risk of suffering kidney disease. Your doctors should be aware of this and keep a close eye on any reduction in kidney function.

Deteriorating kidney function in itself can result in high blood pressure as a side effect.

Failing to properly monitor you and act upon abnormal blood test results can result in a delayed diagnosis of a genetic condition that requires close monitoring by your kidney doctors.

Even if you would always have suffered kidney failure, with careful monitoring (and in some cases, medication), the progression to complete kidney failure and dialysis can be slowed down significantly and you have time to prepare for a transplant – it won’t be such a shock.

We recently settled a case for £180,000 whereby the claimant would most likely have required a transplant in her lifetime, but this was brought forward by 20 years due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment of her kidney failure. As a result she required one additional transplant in her lifetime.


Claim Compensation For Damaged Kidneys

Undergoing dialysis and preparing for a kidney transplant is invasive on your life – you may need to go private for your consultations, or require dialysis at home to reduce the impact on your day-to-day life as much as possible.

Also, you may not want the NHS to treat you if they’re the ones that damaged your kidneys in the first place.

But the cost of private treatment is not restricted to consultations and dialysis. You will also require associated nursing and/or family care and equipment. In some cases you may need to adapt your house to make room for a dialysis machine.

You’ll need compensation to fund all this.

And even if you decide to stick with the NHS for your care and treatment, compensation for kidney injuries can still be as high as £3 million because of the:

  • severity of the injuries and impact on life
  • pain and suffering caused- physical and mental
  • loss of earnings if you can no longer work (especially if you have a family to support).
     

What If Medical Negligence Caused The Death Of A Loved One?

Was medical negligence to blame for the loss of a member of your family? You can still claim compensation – even if they have died.

As the estate of the deceased, you can claim for damages including:

  • bereavement
  • the pain that your loved one suffered before they died
  • any extra care or treatment they needed before they died
  • loss of earnings or livelihood
  • financial hardship caused by the loss of a breadwinner
  • funeral expenses.


Find Out More About Claiming

Contact Coles Miller Partner Lydia Barnett, a solicitor specialising in medical negligence claims, for more information, 01202 355695.