On June 17th, several media sources announced that Fresenius Medical Care North America had recognized one of its dialysis centers – located in the Southwestern Washington town of Walla Walla – for “achieving high standards in patient care in 2012.” The Center for Excellence Designation is given out by the company once every year to a particular Fresenius facility that has demonstrated a superior level of patient care.
At the same time, the estate of the late Filmon Brysten, whose premature demise was allegedly due to a Fresenius dialysis drug Granuflo with which he was treated, has filed a class action lawsuit in a Pennsylvania against the Massachusetts-based subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical giant. The lawsuit alleges that executives at Granuflo were aware of the dangerous effects of the drug (which raises the pH levels in the patient's blood – somewhat like injecting baking soda into the vein) and failed to make this knowledge public.
To be fair, Fresenius did in fact issue warnings – but only to personnel working at the company's own dialysis facilities. A company executive claimed that in order to make this information widespread outside Fresenius' own network would have required publication in a major professional medical journal – a process that would have taken several weeks. The executive added that information on the potential side effect was “too preliminary to warrant publication.”
Apparently, this executive was unfamiliar with the more creative and practical uses of Web-based social media.
Chances are that, despite the excellent care given to patients at Fresenius' own dialysis centers, the company's oversight in providing safety information to outside clinics may cost the company significant dollars.
Hillhouse, Vicki. “Fresenius Dialysis Center Honored. Walla Walla Union Bulletin, 17 June 2013.
Packel, Dan. “Fresenius Hit With Dialysis Treatment Class Action.” Law360.com, 17 June 2013.
Learn more about GranuFlo lawsuits