Busy emergency room doctors in Montana hospitals do not always have time to perform thorough patient evaluations, and they often rely on blood tests to diagnose acute kidney injuries. A large number of critically ill patients around the country are diagnosed with such an injury, but a study published by researchers from Columbia University suggests that many of these diagnoses could be inaccurate.
Doctors look at creatinine levels in the blood when determining whether or not an accident or illness has caused an acute kidney injury, but the researchers say that these levels only provide a complete picture when they are observed over time. They studied the records of 61,000 patients who had been diagnosed with an acute kidney injury, and creatinine levels quickly returned to normal in 73 percent of these patients. The study can be found in the December 2016 edition of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The consequences of a misdiagnosis can be severe. Untreated dehydration can result in permanent kidney damage, and unnecessary rehydration can cause fluids to build up dangerously in the lungs. More than a thousand biomarkers were identified that could differentiate between kidney damage and dehydration when tests were performed on mice, and the researchers believe that further testing could one day provide physicians with more effective diagnostic tools.
Emergency room doctors save lives every day, and it can be easy for juries to give them the benefit of the doubt in medical malpractice cases. Experienced personal injury attorneys will likely have encountered sympathetic defendants, and they may call on experts in these situations to swing sympathy back toward their injured clients. Experts can point out what is expected of doctors and explain to juries how errors could have been avoided.