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      Care of undocumented-uninsured immigrants in a large urban dialysis unit

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          Medical, ethical and financial dilemmas may arise in treating undocumented-uninsured patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Hereby we describe the 10-year experience of treating undocumented-uninsured ESRD patients in a large public dialysis-unit.


          We evaluated the medical files of all the chronic dialysis patients treated at the Tel-Aviv Medical Center between the years 2000–2010. Data for all immigrant patients without documentation and medical insurance were obtained. Clinical data were compared with an age-matched cohort of 77 insured dialysis patients.


          Fifteen undocumented-uninsured patients were treated with chronic scheduled dialysis therapy for a mean length of 2.3 years and a total of 4953 hemodialysis sessions, despite lack of reimbursement. All undocumented-uninsured patients presented initially with symptoms attributed to uremia and with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD). In comparison, in the age-matched cohort, only 6 patients (8%) were initially evaluated by a nephrologist at stage 5 CKD. Levels of hemoglobin (8.5 ± 1.7 versus 10.8 ± 1.6 g/dL; p < 0.0001) and albumin (33.8 ± 4.8 versus 37.7 ± 3.9 g/L; p < 0.001) were lower in the undocumented-uninsured dialysis patients compared with the age-matched insured patients at initiation of hemodialysis therapy. These significant changes were persistent throughout the treatment period. Hemodialysis was performed in all the undocumented-uninsured patients via tunneled cuffed catheters (TCC) without higher rates of TCC-associated infections. The rate of skipped hemodialysis sessions was similar in the undocumented-uninsured and age-matched insured cohorts.


          Undocumented-uninsured dialysis patients presented initially in the advanced stages of CKD with lower levels of hemoglobin and worse nutritional status in comparison with age-matched insured patients. The type of vascular access for hemodialysis was less than optimal with regards to current guidelines. There is a need for the national and international nephrology communities to establish a policy concerning the treatment of undocumented-uninsured patients with CKD.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Clinical practice guidelines for hemodialysis adequacy, update 2006.

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            Type of vascular access and survival among incident hemodialysis patients: the Choices for Healthy Outcomes in Caring for ESRD (CHOICE) Study.

            Arteriovenous fistulae (AVF) have advantages over arteriovenous grafts (AVG) and central venous catheters (CVC), but whether AVF are associated independently with better survival is unclear. Recent studies showing such a survival benefit did not include early access experience or account for changes in access type over time and did not include data on some important confounders. Reported here are survival rates stratified by the type of access in use up to 3 yr after initiation of hemodialysis among 616 incident patients who were enrolled in the Choices for Healthy Outcomes in Caring for ESRD (CHOICE) Study. A total of 1084 accesses (185 AVF, 296 AVG, 603 CVC) were used for a total of 1381 person-years. At initiation, 409 (66%) patients were using a CVC, 122 (20%) were using an AVG, and 85 (14%) were using an AVF. After 6 mo, 34% were using a CVC, 40% were using an AVG, and 26% were using an AVF. Annual mortality rates were 11.7% for AVF, 14.2% for AVG, and 16.1% for CVC. Adjusted relative hazards (RH) of death compared with AVF were 1.5 (95% confidence interval, 1.0 to 2.2) for CVC and 1.2 (0.8 to 1.8) for AVG. The increased hazards associated with CVC, as compared with AVF, were stronger in men (n = 334; RH = 2.0; P = 0.01) than women (n = 282; RH = 1.0 for CVC; P = 0.92). These results strongly support existing clinical practice guidelines and suggest that the use of venous catheters should be minimized to reduce the frequency of access complications and to improve patient survival, especially among male hemodialysis patients.
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              Revisiting mortality predictability of serum albumin in the dialysis population: time dependency, longitudinal changes and population-attributable fraction.

              Hypoalbuminaemia is a marker of malnutrition-inflammation complex syndrome (MICS) and a strong predictor of cardiovascular (CV) death in maintenance haemodialysis (MHD) patients. However, serum albumin may change over time. Hence, its time-varying associations with outcome may be different. Associations between 3-month averaged serum albumin levels, measured in a single laboratory using bromocresol green, and CV mortality were studied longitudinally in a 2-year cohort of 58,058 MHD patients. Mortality predictability of fixed baseline and trimonthly-varying serum albumin concentrations were compared. Hazard ratios (HRs) of CV death strictly increased across decrements of baseline serum albumin, whereas the HR for time-varying serum albumin decrements below 3.8 g/dl did not differ. A drop in serum albumin in the first 6 months was associated with increasing all-cause and CV death risks in the subsequent 18 months, while a rise in serum albumin was a predictor of better survival independent of baseline serum albumin. The multivariate adjusted population-attributable fraction of death due to baseline serum albumin 3.8 g/dl might reduce the number of MHD deaths in the USA by approximately 10,000 annually. Nutritional interventions examining benefits of increasing serum albumin in MHD patients are urgently needed.

                Author and article information

                BMC Nephrol
                BMC Nephrol
                BMC Nephrology
                BioMed Central
                19 September 2012
                : 13
                : 112
                [1 ]Nephrology Department, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, 64239, Israel
                Copyright © 2012 Chernin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article


                dialysis, esrd, undocumented, uninsured, immigrants


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