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      The Impact of an Out-Reach Clinic on Referral of Patients with Renal Impairment

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          Background: Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of a number of renal diseases may delay renal failure, obviate the need for renal replacement therapy and reduce co-morbidity. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of out-reach renal clinics on patterns of referral of patients with renal impairment to a nephrologist. Methods: The number of patients with renal impairment was determined as defined by serum creatinine levels >150 µmol/l in three centres within a single NHS trust over two separate 1-week periods. None of the centres studied has a local nephrologist, however one centre (hospital A) has renal out-reach clinics, another is geographically close to a renal unit (hospital B), while the third unit (hospital C) has no nephrology presence and is geographically furthest from the renal unit. In addition, retrospective as well as follow-up data on the renal function of all patients with renal impairment was collected. Results: In hospital A, there was a lower proportion of patients with unreferred renal impairment than in the other two hospitals. Within the unreferred patient group there were significantly more patients whose renal function improved during the follow-up period. A considerable proportion of patients with documented deterioration in renal function remained unknown to nephrology services 6 months after initial presentation. Other than the presence of an onsite nephrology service, the only other factor found to be significantly different in those patients not referred to nephrologists was age: as in all three centres, those not referred were significantly older. Conclusion: Inequity of access to renal services is an important obstacle to early referral of patients with impaired renal function. Out-reach renal services provide a model which significantly improves referral patterns.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Octogenarians reaching end-stage renal disease: cohort study of decision-making and clinical outcomes.

          The fate of octogenarians reaching end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is poorly defined, and implicit dialysis rationing may be practiced in this age group. The main objectives of this study were to analyze the characteristics of pre-ESRD octogenarians offered dialysis or not and to identify factors influencing mortality while on dialysis, to improve prognosis assessment and decision-making. In this single-center cohort, 146 consecutive pre-ESRD octogenarians were referred to a nephrology unit over a 12-yr period (1989 to 2000). Main outcome measures were baseline characteristics of patients offered dialysis and conservative therapy and overall and 1-yr survival according to effective treatment. A therapeutic decision was made for 144 patients. Octogenarians who were not proposed dialysis (n = 37) differed from those who were proposed dialysis (n = 107) mainly in terms of social isolation (43.3% versus 14.7%; P = 0.03), late nephrologic referral (51.4% versus 28.9%; P = 0.01), Karnofsky score (55 +/- 18 versus 63 +/- 20; P = 0.03), and diabetic status (22.2% versus 6.5%, P = 0.008). Six patients refused the dialysis proposal. During the 12-yr observation period, 99 patients died (68.7%). Median survival was 28.9 mo (95% CI, 24 to 38) in patients undergoing dialysis, compared with 8.9 mo (95% CI, 4 to 10) in patients treated conservatively (P < 0.0001). In multivariable piecewise Cox analysis, independent predictors of death within 1 yr on dialysis were poor nutritional status, late referral, and functional dependence. Included in a survivor function, these covariates predict groups with low and high 1-yr mortality risk. Beyond 1 yr on dialysis, the only independent predictor of death was the presence of peripheral vascular disease. It is concluded that beside a patient's individual refusal, late referral, social isolation, low functional capacity, and diabetes may have oriented medical decision toward withholding dialysis in a significant proportion of pre-ESRD octogenarians. Although most patients on dialysis experienced a substantial prolongation of life, identification of mortality predictors in this age group should improve the process of decision-making regarding the expected benefit of renal replacement therapy.
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            A propensity analysis of late versus early nephrologist referral and mortality on dialysis.

            Previous studies have analyzed the association between late versus early nephrologist referral (LR, ER) and poor clinical outcomes in patients with end-stage renal disease. We sought to determine whether these poor outcomes were causally related to LR, or whether LR was a proxy for poorer access to health care in general. An inception cohort of incident dialysis patients enrolled in the New Jersey Medicare or Medicaid programs was identified. Using a large number of demographic, clinical, and health care utilization covariates, propensity scores (PS) were then calculated to predict whether a given patient had been seen by a nephrologist at 90 d before first dialysis. Cox proportional hazards models were then built to test the association between timing of nephrologist referral and mortality during the first year of dialysis, using PS adjustment and matching to determine whether this association was confounded by other measures of reduced healthcare utilization. Neither adjustment for PS (HR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.17 to 1.47) nor matching (HR = 1.40; 95% CI, 1.23 to 1.59) materially changed the initial 36% excess mortality in LR compared with ER patients (HR = 1.36; 95% CI, 1.22 to 1.51). Excess mortality among LR was limited to the first 3 mo of dialysis (HR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.48 to 2.08) but not present thereafter (HR = 1.03; 95% CI, 0.84 to 1.25). Late nephrologist referral is an independent risk factor for early death on dialysis, even after controlling for other indicators of healthcare utilization. Further research is needed to identify patients at particular risk so that interventions to prevent early deaths on dialysis in LR patients can be developed and tested.
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              Screening for renal disease using serum creatinine: who are we missing?

              Appropriate management and timely referral of patients with early renal disease often depend on the identification of renal insufficiency by primary care physicians. Serum creatinine (SCr) levels are frequently used as a screening test for renal dysfunction; however, patients can have significantly decreased glomerular filtration rates (GFR) with normal range SCr values, making the recognition of renal dysfunction more difficult. This study was designed to estimate the prevalence of patients who have significantly reduced GFR as calculated by the Cockcroft-Gault (C-G) formula, but normal-range SCR: The study included 2781 outpatients referred by community physicians to an urban laboratory network for SCr measurement. GFR was estimated using the C-G formula. Patients were grouped according to the concordance of SCr level abnormalities (abnormal >130 micromol/l) with significantly abnormal C-G values (abnormal or =70 years old, 12.6% 60-69 years old, and 1.2% 40-59 years old. Analysis of historical available laboratory data for patients with abnormal SCr and abnormal C-G values showed that 2 years prior to the study period, 72% of this group had abnormal SCr, while 18% had normal SCr with abnormal C-G values, and 10% had normal SCr with normal C-G values. This study documents the substantial prevalence of significantly abnormal renal function among patients identified by laboratories as having normal-range SCR: Including calculated estimates of GFR in routine laboratory reporting may help to facilitate the early identification of patients with renal impairment.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Clin Pract
                Nephron Clinical Practice
                S. Karger AG
                December 2005
                10 August 2005
                : 101
                : 4
                : c168-c173
                aInstitute of Nephrology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, and Departments of bUrology and cPathology, Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, UK
                87392 Nephron Clin Pract 2005;101:c168–c173
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, References: 14, Pages: 1
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                Original Paper

                Cardiovascular Medicine, Nephrology

                Referral rates, out-reach clinics, Nephrology services


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