Certain groups of kidney disease patients, including minorities, are not being referred to specialists soon enough, according to a report by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
The National Kidney Foundation recommends that kidney disease patients be referred to nephrologists when they reach stage 4 in their disease. Care by a nephrologist can result in reduced rates of hospitalization and death for kidney disease patients, according to the Journal. However, up to 80% of patients who begin dialysis are referred late to nephrologists, according to studies, the Journal reports.
About 26 million people in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease, and there will be 700,000 cases of end-stage kidney disease by 2015, according to the report.
The report, which examined 18 studies on kidney disease care, found that patient characteristics associated with late referrals to a nephrologist include "being older, belonging to a minority group, being uninsured and suffering from multiple health problems."
Senior report author Sonal Singh, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at Wake Forest, said, "Late referral has been documented as a problem for more than 15 years and, according to recent studies, is not declining. Finding ways to address the problem has been hampered by a lack of understanding of the factors responsible."
Leanne Skipper, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of North Carolina, said, "Early detection and treatment is pivotal because while people don't age into cancer or AIDS, they can age into chronic kidney disease."
A report expected to be presented to the North Carolina General Assembly during this session states, "Many individuals who have or are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease are unaware of this problem. They fail to obtain appropriate care that can help them manage their health problems. This is a health problem that disproportionately impacts on African-American and Native American populations".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation