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Medical Management Of Kidney Disease

If kidney disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, it is possible to prevent the condition deteriorating, meaning a patient will be able to effectively manage his or her illness. However, if medical professionals fail to identify the characteristic symptoms of poor kidney function in a timely fashion, it could become life-threatening.

Diagnosing kidney disease in the early stages

When the kidneys begin to lose function, a patient is said to have chronic kidney disease (CKD). This is commonly associated with the ageing process, although problems can be augmented by high blood pressure, diabetes and the long-term use of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Kidney disease is also particularly prevalent amongst people of African, Caribbean and South Asian origin.

During the early stages of the condition there are very few, if any, symptoms. This is because the human body is designed to cope with reduced kidney function. Nevertheless, regular screening should be offered to those most at risk of developing CKD (as outlined above), meaning problems are usually detected during routine blood and/or urine tests.

Diagnosing kidney disease in the later stages

However, it is possible for kidney disease to occur outside these 'at-risk' groups. This makes it much harder for the illness to be identified in the early stages. Without the appropriate treatment, the kidneys will continue to deteriorate and symptoms will begin appear. These include:-

  • Fatigue;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Nausea;
  • Swollen ankles or hands;
  • Blood in the urine;
  • Erectile dysfunction;
  • Increase of urinary frequency.

If a patient is displaying these symptoms, a doctor should carry out tests to confirm whether or not kidney disease is present. These can include urine tests, kidney scans and a kidney biopsy. A patient's glomerular filtration rate (GFR) should also be assessed to measure how well the kidneys are working.

Delay in diagnosing kidney disease does this amount to negligence?

The longer kidney disease is left untreated, the more extensive kidney damage will be. If there is a lengthy delay a patient could develop kidney failure, meaning dialysis and possibly even a kidney transplant will be necessary. This is a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

Unfortunately complications such as established renal failure (ERF) are sometimes unavoidable. Indeed, if a patient does not seek medical intervention when he or she develops symptoms, doctors cannot be blamed for not diagnosing the problem.

However, there are occasions in which medical professionals repeatedly fail to identify chronic kidney disease, despite a patient complaining of the tell-tale symptoms. We have even acted for people who have undergone screening, only for their test results to be neglected. In cases such as these, doctors will be held accountable for the pain and suffering a delay in diagnosis has caused the patient and their loved ones.

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