Police Investigating Chronic Kidney Disease Patient's Suspicious Death During Dialysis Treatment

A 55 year old Dialysis patient, Mary Elizabeth Goetz, died at a U.S. Renal Care Dialysis Center. The Dialysis Center operates 200 Clinics across the country and are "saddened" by Ms. Goetz's death due to what appears to be an otherwise avoidable mistake. 

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Police say that the Dialysis patient's "Arterial Blood Line was disconnected from her heart catheter and wasn't noticed by the staff for an unspecified amount of time," according to the online publication - Bellingham Herald. Goetz was said to be conducting her Dialysis Treatments outside of Pittsburgh  at a Dialysis Center rated two (2) stars out of five (5) possible stars. 

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The incident was believed to have happened between 3:30PM and 4:00PM, suggested police. Unfortunately, by 5:31PM Mary Elizabeth Goetz was pronounced dead in a local hospital's Emergency Room. Ms. Goetz was a mother and grandmother, and this untimely and unfortunate mishap sheds a bright light on the need for Dialysis patients to be extremely watchful during their Dialysis Treatments. While Nurses and Patient Care Technicians have the best intentions, patients should also try to avoid and catch any errors to the best of their ability. 

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In no way was this Ms. Goetz fault, and it is not unique to U.S. Renal Care, Inc. since similar patient mishandlings can be noted at other Dialysis Facilities. For instance, Canadian officials are considering a full investigation into the death of a patient as a result of neglect during treatment. A Dialysis Patient Care Technician mistakenly opened the wrong valve of water used to clean blood during Dialysis and flushed "powerful cleaning agents (chemicals)" into four Dialysis machines hooked up to individual patients. While three survived, one died. 

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Canadian Health Law Expert, Amir Attaran said, “It’s beyond obvious that someone was negligent, maybe even criminally negligent.”  Attaran encourages police to investigate. Hence, patients should employ the following strategies to avoid being victims of mistakes and negligence during Dialysis Treatments:

  • Do not place blankets or covers over your access as it may increase the chances of disconnection and prevent staff from noticing that you are bleeding.
  • If you feel something out of the ordinary or feel unusually ill, then tell your Nurse or Patient Care Technician immediately. Do not wait or think it is "just an off day." Act promptly.
  • Should tape become loose or peel off, tell your Patient Care Technician immediately. Do not simply wait for them to notice as it may cause the Arterial Line to disconnect from your Dialysis Access. 
  • Sleeping during Dialysis is typically alright (unless told otherwise by your Healthcare Team), but patients should awake periodically to evaluate the progress of their treatments. 

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