Kidney disease is a life-threatening condition that requires long-term medical supervision and management. According to the most recent numbers, 1 in 3 U.S. adults is at risk for developing kidney disease. The pervasiveness and poor management of the condition make kidney disease one of the leading causes of death nationwide. More worryingly, the number of kidney-failure patients crashing into dialysis units is on the rise. Patients are unexpectedly put on dialysis without receiving proper investigations from a nephrologist.
Not surprisingly, crash dialysis can do more harm than good. Kidney disease patients are exposed to unnecessary treatment risks such as infections, malnutrition, clinical depression, blood clots, cardiac arrhythmia, and other cardiovascular effects. Dialysis can be life-saving, but it also ought to be a personalized treatment that accounts for each patient’s medical history. At Primary Medical Care Center, we strive to educate and aid our patients throughout their treatment process. Our goal is to minimize risks and improve treatment outcomes for all patients in need.
Why Is Crash Dialysis so common in Kidney Disease Treatment?
Many kidney disease patients get referred to dialysis clinics without undergoing other prior investigations. It’s an unfortunate but common occurrence. It’s estimated that over 80% of all dialysis treatments in the U.S. start in a crash setting.
These numbers are alarming, especially considering that high-risk patients undergoing emergency crash dialysis often fare worse, especially if other pre-existing health conditions are unaccounted for. It’s also important to remember that patients with kidney disease often suffer from reduced immune function. Sending high-risk patients to an emergency room increases their risk of contracting infectious diseases, especially COVID.
Due to decreased immune function, infectious diseases are the second most common cause of mortality in chronic kidney disease patients. This begs the question— if prompt intervention doesn’t offer more benefits, why are more and more patients unexpectedly put on emergency dialysis?
This approach is a result of four major factors:
- Kidney disease is a prevalent medical issue.
Globally, kidney disease is the 12th most common cause of death. The numbers paint an even more concerning image in the U.S., where kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death. Not only that, but recent studies show that chronic kidney disease is on the rise throughout North America. Despite this, only 30-35% of patients who receive dialysis treatment have been previously referred to a nephrologist.
This higher prevalence is likely due to an increase in other risk factors such as hypertension, type II diabetes, and an aging population. The data makes it clear— we need a paradigm shift. Preventive care, individualized treatment, and identifying and monitoring other risk factors should constitute the first line of action.
- Less than 6% of nephrology practices provide patient education.
It’s a common problem in medical establishments. Patients’ questions and concerns are often overlooked. Many doctors have the misconceptions that patients lack the ability to understand, discuss, or play an active role in their medical care. This mindset makes doctor-patient communication and individualized patient education challenging.
However, observational studies prove that providing patient education should be a top priority. Open patient-doctor communication increases kidney patients’ knowledge, understanding, and confidence about medical treatment and outcomes. The same observations showed that 71% of the patients who received education were interested in home dialysis, and 43% of them received access to home therapy. Patient education improves health outcomes and helps people gain access to safer and more personalized treatment.
- The medical system suffers from a lack of innovation.
In the current fee-for-service model, medical facilities throughout the U.S. operate on a tight appointment schedule. It’s easier for medical specialists to save time by providing emergency care. This seems like the most logical option for a time-sensitive health condition such as kidney disease. Thoroughly preparing patients for dialysis is a time-consuming process, and providing patient education is not even an afterthought.
This approach needs to change. CKD management innovations are crucial if we want to prevent negative treatment outcomes and raise patients’ well-being and satisfaction. Only by changing our approach to dialysis can we reduce the incidence of unnecessary or risky emergency treatments. This could help doctors save countless lives and reduce medical care costs for their patients.
- Too little attention goes into preventive care.
Dialysis saves lives, but the treatment comes with risks and high medical costs. The numbers prove it— preventive care improves health outcomes and reduces unnecessary costs and stress for patients. We need to focus more resources on earlier diagnosis, patient education, and personalized care. This would reduce the number of crash dialysis cases and undesirable side effects from rushed treatments.
We’re trying to shift things in the right direction. If you or someone you love needs treatment for CKD, you can call us at (305) 751-1500 or use our contact form. We’re always ready to educate patients and offer personalized treatment!