Dialysis Treatment Heart Attack Lawsuit Filed Against Fresenius, Davita

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

A product liability lawsuit has been filed against Fresenius Medical Care, the largest provider of dialysis services in the United States, alleging that the company knew that use of its Granuflo and NaturaLyte hemodialysis products were causing individuals to suffer heart attacks, cardiac arrests and sudden death, but failed to warn the medical community. 

The wrongful death complaint (PDF) was filed by Arthurine Williams, whose husband, Johnny Williams, died in 2010 after receiving dialysis treatment.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on July 27, naming Fresenius, Inc. and its subsidiaries as defendants, as well as DaVita, Inc., which ran the dialysis clinic where Williams received treatment with Granuflo and NaturaLyte.

Johnny Williams began receiving hemodialysis treatment at DaVita Ensley dialysis clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 28, 2010, according to the complaint. The treatment included the use of GranuFlo and NaturaLyte; acid concentrates that are manufactured by Fresenius for use during the hemodialysis process. Williams died of a sudden heart attack on July 29, 2010.

Arthurine Williams alleges that the death of her husband was caused by side effects of NaturaLyte and GranuFlo, and that Fresenius Medical Care knew or should have known about the risk of heart problems from the hemodialysis treatments and failed to disclose that information to doctors and dialysis clinics using their products.

According to the complaint, the company has known about GranuFlo and NaturaLyte heart problems for years, but kept those problems under wraps.

Fresenius Dialysis Treatments Used At Clinics Throughout U.S.

Fresenius Medical Care is the largest chain of dialysis treatment centers in the United States, operating 1,600 dialysis clinics. However, the company is also a major supplier of dialysis drugs and equipment used at competing centers.

In November 2011, Fresenius issued an internal memo to its own facilities warning that inappropriate prescription of the dialysis drugs could result in a high sodium bicarbonate level, which can cause metabolic alkalosis. This can lead to a heart attack or death for dialysis patients. However, the memo did not go out to the other dialysis centers that use Fresenius products until March, leaving them uniformed about the possible risks to their patients for months.

The FDA decided that the warnings constituted a Class I medical device recall for Granuflo and Naturalyte, which means the agency believes the products are likely to cause severe injury and death.

In response to the problems, the FDA issued a safety communication in May 2012, warning about the risk of dosing problems during hemodialysis treatments with Granuflo and NaturaLyte, and urging doctors to consider the impact of the acetate levels in these dialysate concentrates when ordering or administering hemodialysis treatments.

An internal analysis by Fresenius has found at least 941 instances where individuals suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest within their dialysis centers between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

According to the complaint, it became irrefutably evident to Fresenius by 2010, but top executives chose not to properly report these complications or Granuflo risks and withheld important information in an attempt to maintain their market share and diffuse the legal risks.

Arthurine Williams accuses the defendants of strict liability, failure to warn, breach of warranty, fraud, negligence, wrongful death, unjust enrichment, and accuses Fresenius of wantonly and recklessly making and selling NaturaLyte and GranuFlo in spite of knowing the dangers of the two drugs. The lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

The complaint is believed to be the first dialysis treatment lawsuit filed against Fresenius Medical Care since information about the risk of heart problems from Granuflo and NaturaLyte has become widely reported.

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  1. PATRICIA Reply

    my husband died march 3 2010 after hemodialysis treatment @frensenius dialysis center in st. louis mo. he was fine when he left home that morning for the clinic but i received a call stating he was rushed to the hospital when i got there he ad expired

  2. Terriana Reply

    My father died suddenly, while recieving dialysis treatment (the same day). I was informed that the products that was being used was thought to have played a part in his death by someone that saw an ad that named the company that he recieved his long term care from as a carrier of the products. If the company is responsible, and they knew it I think that is very very sad and down right inhumane.

  3. Ben Reply

    This needs to be a class action lawsuit, if they’ve had 941 cases of heart attack just in thier dialysis centers alone!!! I am currently a dialysis patient at 27 years old and would hope that if I passed away from someone else’s mistake my family would do what needed to be done. These companies aren’t going to learn there lesson and stop being so careless with other peoples lives, if people just let them get away with it.

  4. Octavia Reply

    My husband started hemodialysis in July 2010, during that year he went thur passing out at the center to once coming home after dialysis passed out and his heart stopped. not once but 9 times in a week. each time it stop after dialysis.I thank god for pace maker and defrualater.Which I believed save his life.

  5. sherry Reply

    my mother passed after the dyialysis center increased the amount of sodium they added to clear blood clots in their machines to the solutions they gave their patients in treatment.though we complained about how sick she was becoming they continued their treatment some patients died others became so sick they were close to dying. they were treated as studies not patients someone really need to investigate what these centers are doing to these patients its not right

  6. patti Reply

    my husband was on dialysis for approx 6 months and while he was on the machine – 6 different times his heart stopped – they got it started and was rushed to the hospital all 6 times. They did not know what caused it and finally in 2006 – they didnt get his heart started in time and after about a week – he never woke up and was found that he had no brain function and was condisered brain dead so we disconnected life support and he died 10 hours later. I just saw a ad on tv about this and called the 1-800 number – awaiting a call back from a attorney that is handling this law suit.

  7. Diane Reply

    Oh Patricia – happened to my husband; however, I was there during treatment – he too, died at a hospital. Such a sad situation, quite a mess to sort out

  8. SUSAN Reply

    I first want to begin by saying how sorry I am to hear that some of you lost your loved ones due to a medical company NEGLIGENTLY refusing to come forward with the hard truth that their product was undoubtably causing deaths to patients receiving Hemodialysis. (GranuFlo and Natural LYte)

    I’m pretty certain, as most of you would agree, that there is no money amount that can fix the hurt and unjustice that has forever changed your life HOWEVER, PLEASE know that Fresenius is 100% at fault and guess what that means?? If you or anybody you know died during dialysis or even up to 48 hours after receiving dialysis there is a HUGE trust fund that has been set up to pay those applicable to what I have just mentioned. PLEASE email me if you think this applies to you or anyone you know. I am not a lawyer, rather a registered nurse who is working in collaboration with the top notch lawyers and we will not give up until we succeed with some kind of justice!

    Thank you!!!!

  9. Elecia Early Reply

    My mother took dialysis at Forsenius in Gardendale Alabama. She had a hard time, its like they didnt have the recipe right in her treatments each time. They also perscribed her Bicarbonite pills at one time and forgot to take her off and when I called it to their attention she was taking them, they told me to stop giving them to her immediately! She had a major heart attack and passed away the beginning of November 2010, thirty minutes after her treatment at Forsenius. She did not die that same day, she laid in a coma for 2 weeks in ICU and died in Pallitive Care at St Vincent Hospital.

  10. jeanette Reply

    Mom died at home after receiving her weekly dialysis treatment. She was only home an hour then went into a coma like state then later that night was taken off life support.

  11. Dustin Reply

    My mother was on dialysis treatments and was hospitalized. She had been on dialysis for about 2 years and was in and out of the hospital. We had all been told that she was doing much better and that she would be able to return home very soon. The next day she had dialysis and that afternoon we received a phone call from the hospital claiming that her vital signs were failing and that we needed to come in to see her before she passed. When we arrived at the hospital we were told she had had a stroke and was non-responsive. She had a DNR on her medical file so the doctors could not fight to bring her back. I lost my mother that day when I was only 16 years old. I also lost my complete way of life and was diagnosed with PTSD because I was the last person to see her alive. I am now 21 years old soon to be 22 and I want to see justice done against these murderers who stole my mother from my family and I. Please if there are any attorneys out there who would take this case please contact me as soon as possible

  12. Carlton Reply

    My mother was diagnosed with septic shock at the ER a day after dialysis at a fresenius center? she went because the shunt site wouldn’t stop bleeding. Her heart stopped 2 weeks later in August of 2006 as she was being unhooked from a dialysis machine ran by fresenius employees at the hospital . Found out they run the dialysis wing there. Tried to file a lawsuit but I was told statute of limitations ran out!!! Because my mother lived in a certain place “OHIO” and ishe passed in 2006 not 2008 I have no lawsuit. I guess we will never get closure into why this happened to my 47 year old mom ! How can these people get away with being held accountable for her death when there is no statute on murder. Is my mothers life t worth the next persons because she was killed by a corporation and not a single person ? Where is the justice in America … Don’t hesitate if there is a question , it may be too LATE for justice to be served…..

  13. shayla Reply

    My mom was on dialysis almost 3 years if not 3 she was always in good spirit until they went and changed the medication they were providing I would say for bout a year to 1 1/2 years my mom health start to really go down after that she did tell us that they had them sign something but would not give them a copy of what it was she said that they were poisoning them because they changed the medicine my mom stayed in and out the hospital always full of fluid it had got to the point where she would throw-up everyday all day it was like coffee grain we would take her to the doctors they would give her something for being sick at the stomach but would send her back home. My mom went to dialysis the day before she past which was 12/06/2012 she called me and said I am sick as a dog baby so I left work to go check on her she appeared to be okay when I got there but as the minutes went by she just got worse she went to the hospital by ambulance and when I was walking through the door they were calling a code blue no one could go back or anything long story short my mom would be still living if they had not switched over to granuflo/naturalyte or whatever it was they did like I said she told us they were killing them. I can go on and on about.

  14. joyce Reply

    My dad left by ambulance on Thursday going to dialysis in Cullman ,he came home an hour earlier from the time it usually took. After dad came home that day he never said hardly anything . He died at 3:00 am the next morning. He was due to go back to clinic on Saturday and Monday. On Monday after my dads funeral a lady called and asked why he didn’t come to the clinic. I told her he had died after he came home on Thursday . She just got real quite for a minute then said Iam sorry.

  15. joy Reply

    On may 26th 2014 my mom had went to dialysis to get her treatment that morning and about 2 or 3pm I had received of call from dialysis stating that my mom was not responding to anything and that she was rushed to Jackson park and when me and my siblings did get there she was dead her face was cold and her hands was warm and her eyes was open. so the next day came me and my siblings went back to dialysis to ask for my mom purse and they had told us that they had worked on my mom for an hour and the ambulance worked on her the same as they did. so me and my siblings went back on 06/17/2014 the young lady that told us the same thing told us another story first of all they did not give us our mom cane or her sweater but when they did it have blood at the bottom of it they cut her shirt off but not the sweater. so back to when we did go and get the rest of our mom things she told us that when my mom left that she was alive. but they put on my mom death certificate that she died at 5pm that’s not possible because I received the call early that day and me and my brother made it up there at about 4 pm and the doctors took all day coming out telling us about our mom.

  16. angelia Reply

    My 44 year old brother suddenly died of a heart attack at a Heartland faility in Bloomfield Hills, Mi. He was a diabetic and was recovering from a previous hospital stay (pneumonia) from complications from diabetes.

  17. sylvia Reply

    my mother was receiving her dialysis at a center in hanford calif. she stated she had been feeling nausea, light head and that she felt couldnt breath very well. On march 6, 2006 my mothers heart stopped while having dialysis. By the time she got to hospital she had passed. These people have to pay for what they have done to my mother and many many others! Last time i looked there is no statue of limitations on murder…

  18. Lena Reply

    I have a situation kind of similar to the stories on Feb.6 2013 my father fell at a Davita Medical Center in Richmond Virginia on Leigh Street and they DENIED IT ! Once we got the autopsy and it said that he had fallen at a MEDICAL CENTER which is called DAVita I filed a lawsuit and after they took 6 months to send my fathers medical records I’m still in the process of trying to prove they were neglectful to the situation! And if it takes ALL that have to prove that for the SIMPLE FACT that you LIED and said he DIDNT FALL WHEN DEATH CERTIFICATE says different IS THE NEGLECTFUL PART CAUSE HIS HEAD NEVER GOT CHECKED AND HE WOULD STILL BE HERE IF THEY WOULD HAVE SAID HE FELL! This Will get OUT THERE SOME KIND of WAY CAUSE THEY HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO TO HIS GRANDCHILDREN!

  19. Latrese Reply

    My thoughts and prayers goes out to each family. Yes this is clearly murder and somebody will answer for it. My mother was on dialysis for eight years never missing a day unless she was hospitalized and I’m sure she received it there. My mom would stay in and out of the hospital while on dialysis. She went the Times a week coming home weak and confused throwing up black stuff. On January 16 2010 I got a call from dialysis stating your mother is off of the machine and she’s crying for you. When I got there she just hugged me tightly saying I just don’t know what’s wrong. I cried with her as a nurse told me ” all her vitals and things were fine we don’t know what the problem is”. I said yea ok bc my mother was a strong women. I took her home later she said take me to the hospital no I don’t want to stay here take me home. She kept saying hi to my 7yr old daughter who was the live off her life. I said somethings just not right. Long story yes long story short! my daughter and I found her dead lying on her bed the next morning. Cause of death cardiac arrhythmia. Imagine that I still can’t believe it!

  20. Elizabeth Reply

    I went to a diaylsis center for 6 months, before I found out that the treatment was not cleaning my blood or taking fluid off of me. I broke out in a really bad rash, where it looked like little white things were coming out of my skin. I went to a follow up appointment at the hospital. While waiting I went into respitory arrest. I end up spending a week in ICU on a respitrator, because they did not know if i would make it. During this time, I had diaylsis everyday whilte i was in ICU. They were taking an average of 13 kg of fluids a day while i was in ICU. A week later I pulled through and the center had the nerves to check to see if I was discharged.

  21. Peter Reply

    My mother was 50 when she died of a heart attack while on the dialysis machine. She was dead before they put her into the ambulance.

    The nurses that worked there came to her funeral and acted kind of funny- I asked if she had said anything before she died. The nurses said no and they obviously didn’t want to talk about it.

    I remember my mother telling me the week before she died that she was drinking diluted bullion cubes to keep her blood pressure up.

    It’s a shame that a company made a product that they knew was killing
    People and didn’t say anything. They cared about their money more than my mothers life.
    They cared about their money more than how her death would effect my life.

    I will never see my mother hold my children.
    My children will never know their grandmother or hear her voice.

    This company needs to pay for what they have done.

    I hope they go bankrupt and show that lives matter more than money.

    We need justice to prevail this time. We are putting our trust in the legal system.

    All we can do is wait, pray and hope.

  22. Frank Reply

    My mom was receiving dialysis treatments at davita in Orange City, Florida. Her last treatment was on Friday Feb. 7 , 2014. On Feb. 9, 2014 while at work she died of a sudden heart attack. She never had heart problems before. Several weeks before my mom died she told me she was not feeling right after her dialysis treatments, she told me if anything ever happened to her I should investigate the place. I just thought she was being paranoid, but now after reading so many stories about wrongdoings going on at Davita I think differently. My mom was a nurse. She told me what they were doing was not right.

  23. Patricia Reply

    My husband started dialysis at fresenius June of 2015…he was on keppra..he kept having seizures..ending up in the hospital…day after Christmas he had a seizure was rushed to hospital…45 min later he had another one..Dr took blood test..asked if he was missing any dosages of keppra..we said absolutely not…told him he was renal failure…Dr said omg he is on dialysis..we said yes, why..he said dialysis wipes any anti seizure medicine out of your system and fresenius was supposed to gI’ve him a booster shot of keppra after every session which was 3 times a husband never left the hospital Jan 7, 2016…if they did that to my husband they have done it to others…the state needs to be more involved and watch these places..

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