Product News and Recalls

Experts: Dialysis not always best option for older patients

A federal law dating to the 1970s provides virtually free dialysis to anyone suffering from kidney failure, according to a story in the New York Times. But renal experts are trying to encourage doctors to give older kidney failure patients, many of whom suffer from other ailments, a more realistic assessment of how much the procedure is likely to help them.

According to the story, recent studies have concluded that not only does dialysis fail to prolong life for many elderly people with other serious chronic illnesses, but that the procedure’s main effect may be to increase the chances that those patients will die in the hospital instead of at home.

And dialysis may carry some health risks of its own.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating allegations that Fresenius, a German company that is the largest operator of dialysis centers in the United States, may have concealed links between its Granuflo product and cardiac arrest.

In November, 2011, the company issued a warning to doctors in its own clinics, informing them that nearly 1,000 of their patients had suffered cardiac arrest, and that GranuFlo was the likely cause. But Fresenius didn’t share that information with other clinics using its products until March, 2012, after an anonymous tipster notified the FDA of the in-house warning.

Although dialysis can be difficult for all patients, the New York Times says, it can be especially challenging for the old and sick. Most patients spend hours hooked up to a machine three times a week, for a procedure so exhausting that some of them have to rest for the remainder of the day.

While many elderly patients prefer to undergo it rather than risk imminent death, the story says renal experts advise that undergoing hospice care for the remainder of their lives may be a preferable option for some patients.

You should consult with a doctor before making any change in your medical care. If you or a loved one have suffered injury or death after kidney dialysis, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation; we can help determine if GranuFlo was used.

See the story here: