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Fresenius Sued After Plaintiff Suffers Fatal Cardiopulmonary Arrest

dialysis machineJohn A. Purvis of Mississippi has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Betty Jo Purvis. The lawsuit lists Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. as the defendant. Mr. Purvis added his short form complaint to the Granuflo multidistrict litigation (MDL) No. 2428 on September 23, 2015, where it joins many others pending against Fresenius. This mass litigation is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the MDL to streamline the litigation process for plaintiffs who have allegedly been affected by the defendant’s products, Granuflo and Naturalyte. An MDL is intended to save costs for all parties involved, prevent the possibility of duplicative discovery, and eliminate the risk of contradictory rulings across different jurisdictions. Once discovery is complete, juries will decide on a handful of bellwether trials, which allow the parties to gauge the potential outcome of other pending lawsuits. If the remaining lawsuits are not settled, they are remanded back to their home districts for trial.

Decedent’s heart suddenly stopped

In this particular Granuflo lawsuit, the plaintiff asserts that the decedent passed away on July 3, 2006. It was determined that she had suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, also known as sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is often thought of as being the same thing as a heart attack. In fact, while a heart attack refers to an obstruction in blood flow to the heart, cardiac arrest involves the sudden loss of heart function. Typically, cardiac arrest is caused by electrical disturbances in the heart that halts the pumping action.

The decedent had been undergoing hemodialysis treatments at Laurel Dialysis Unit in Mississippi. There, she received the defendant’s medical products, Granuflo and Naturalyte, which the lawsuit alleges caused her fatal cardiac arrest.

According to hundreds of other claimants, the dialysate products have also been associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

Granuflo and Naturalyte complications

Dialysis is the standard treatment for patients with acute and chronic kidney disease. Normally, the kidneys perform the crucial task of filtering waste products from the body. However, a patient who has kidney failure must undergo dialysis, which is a blood filtering procedure performed by medical equipment instead of the kidneys. Along with removing waste products from the blood, hemodialysis involves the regulation of the electrolyte levels, which includes the patient’s potassium, calcium, and sodium levels. To correct the acidotic state of kidney failure patients, dialysis involves adding bicarbonate to the bloodstream.

However, if the patient receives too much bicarbonate, alkalosis can occur. Alkalosis is marked by symptoms such as confusion, tremors, nausea, and vomiting. Alkalosis is also a known cause of seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, and sudden death. Granuflo and Naturalyte are acid concentrates, which a healthcare provider must mix with water at the clinic before administering them. These products are unique among dialysis products because they contain two acetates instead of one, which leads to an overabundance of bicarbonate in the bloodstream.

It is this excess bicarbonate that Mr. Purvis alleges led to the sudden cardiac arrest of the decedent. He demands the defendant be held responsible for manufacturing and distributing an allegedly defective product.