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      Referral to Nephrologists for Chronic Kidney Disease Care: Is Non-Diabetic Kidney Disease Ignored?

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          Background: Late referral to nephrologists is common and associated with increased morbidity and mortality. We aimed to analyze the prevalence rates, predictors and consequences of late referral to nephrologists by primary care physicians for chronic kidney disease (CKD) care. Methods: A retrospective analysis of 204 patients started on dialysis for CKD in two community hospitals between March 2003 and March 2005 was conducted. Relevant clinical and laboratory data were obtained from the patient records of the nephrology clinics and dialysis units. Patients referred in CKD stage 5 (estimated glomerular filtration rate <15 ml/min) were defined as late referral and patients in CKD stage 1–4 (estimated glomerular filtration rate >15 ml/min) as early referral. Results: Forty-five (22%) of the 204 patients were referred late. In the multivariate analysis, non-diabetic kidney disease (odds ratio = 2.46, p = 0.02) and Charlson comorbidity index (odds ratio = 1.17, p = 0.009) were significantly associated with late referral. The late referral group had lower hematocrit and serum calcium levels, and higher serum phosphorus and parathyroid hormone levels than the early referral group (p ≤0.05) at the time of referral. Late referral resulted in less permanent vascular access for initiation of dialysis (p = 0.03). Even though there was twice the number of deaths in the late referral group in 1 year (18 vs. 9%), this was not statistically significant (p = 0.07). Conclusion: Referring physicians should pay special attention to patients with non-diabetic kidney disease and patients with multiple comorbidities since delayed referral to nephrologists may result in poorer patient-related outcomes. Larger and long-term prospective studies analyzing the long-term consequences of late referral to nephrologists are needed.

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          Most cited references 15

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          ESRD patients in 2004: global overview of patient numbers, treatment modalities and associated trends.

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            Projecting the number of patients with end-stage renal disease in the United States to the year 2015.

            The size of the prevalent ESRD population in the United States increased dramatically during the 1990s, from 196,000 in 1991 to 382,000 in 2000. Incidence also increased considerably during the same period, from 53,000 to 93,000 per year. If previous trends in ESRD incidence and prevalence continue, then current levels of health care resources that are devoted to the care of these patients will eventually be unable to meet the demand. This study discusses a Markov model developed to predict ESRD incidence, prevalence, and mortality to the year 2015 and incorporating expected changes in age/race distributions, diabetes prevalence, ESRD incidence, and probability of death. The model predicted that by 2015 there will be 136,166 incident ESRD patients per year (lower/upper limits 110,989 to 164,550), 712,290 prevalent patients (595,046 to 842,761), and 107,760 ESRD deaths annually (96,068 to 118,220). Incidence and prevalence counts are expected to increase by 44 and 85%, respectively, from 2000 to 2015 and incidence and prevalence rates per million population by 32 and 70%, respectively. The financial and human resources that will be needed to care for these patients in 2015 will be considerably greater than in 2005.
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              Impact of timing of nephrology referral and pre-ESRD care on mortality risk among new ESRD patients in the United States.

              Recent studies have suggested that early predialysis nephrological care is associated with lower mortality; however, this hypothesis has not been tested in a population-based study. We evaluated the impact of early nephrology referral and pre-end-stage renal disease (ESRD) care on mortality risk in a national cohort of new patients starting dialysis therapy in 1996 and 1997. Data were obtained on a subset of patients (n = 2,264; 56%) from the Dialysis Morbidity and Mortality Study Wave 2 who then were followed up for up to 2 years. Survival comparisons were made using log-rank test, then by Cox regression adjusting for demographics, comorbid medical conditions, and surrogate markers of pre-ESRD care. Adjusted mortality risks (relative risks [RRs]) were higher for late- (within 4 months of dialysis initiation) compared with early-referred patients at the end of 1 and 2 years of follow-up (RR, 1.68; confidence interval [CI], 1.31 to 2.15; RR, 1.23; CI, 1.02 to 1.47, respectively). Mortality risks were similarly high for the late-referred nondiabetic (RR, 2.10; CI, 1.49 to 2.94) and hemodialysis subgroups (RR, 1.72; CI, 1.25 to 2.38). Conversely, mortality risks were lower for patients who saw a nephrologist at least twice in the year before dialysis therapy initiation (RR, 0.80; CI, 0.62 to 1.03; P = 0.08] compared with those who did not. Late nephrology referral is associated with greater death risk in new patients with ESRD, and more frequent pre-ESRD care confers increased survival benefit. These findings stress the need for earlier referral of patients to nephrologists and improved pre-ESRD care for all patients approaching ESRD in the United States to improve survival. Am J Kidney Dis 41:310-318. Copyright 2003 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Nephron Clin Pract
                Nephron Clinical Practice
                S. Karger AG
                July 2007
                22 May 2007
                : 106
                : 3
                : c113-c118
                aDivision of Nephrology, University of Rochester, bDepartment of Medicine and Nephrology, Rochester General Hospital, and cDepartment of Medicine and Nephrology, Unity Health System, Rochester, N.Y., USA
                102998 Nephron Clin Pract 2007;106:c113–c118
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Tables: 4, References: 26, Pages: 1
                Original Paper

                Cardiovascular Medicine, Nephrology

                Nephrologists, Prevalence, Late referral, Chronic kidney disease


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