Wednesday, 31 May 2017

California Bill Addresses Safety Concerns At Dialysis Clinics

Saying they are concerned about safety in California’s dialysis clinics, a coalition of nurses, technicians, patients and union representatives is backing legislation that would require more staffing and oversight.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), would establish minimum staffing ratios, mandate a longer transition time between appointments and require annual inspections of the state’s 562 licensed dialysis clinics.

More than 63,000 Californians receive hemodialysis, which filters impurities from the blood of those with end-stage kidney disease. Demand for the procedure is growing statewide and nationwide as the population ages and more people suffer from chronic conditions that can lead to kidney failure, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

If the legislation passes, California would join several other states that have imposed minimum ratios for dialysis centers, including Utah, South Carolina and New Jersey.

You can read more about this story here and also here. Let's hope the bill succeeds in its purpose.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Hip hop artist Freeway tackles dialysis and raises awareness around kidney disease

Freeway is a hip hop rapper, a musician who loves to entertain his fans

Recently Freeway has taken on a new mission. Yes, he’s still making music, but he’s also an ambassador for the National Kidney Foundation and a constant advocate for kidney health awareness. Back in 2015, the 38-year-old rapper was diagnosed with kidney failure and is now on dialysis.

Freeway has been using his personal story to educate as many people as possible about the dangers of kidney failure, as he wasn’t aware of how crucial a healthy diet and getting regular physician check-ups could be. And beyond tweets and talks, Freeway is putting his money where his mouth is, leading marches and giving free performances to raise awareness of the issue, all while sticking to his own dialysis schedule.

You can read more about this story here and also here

Friday, 21 April 2017

Disappointment at proposed changes to chronic kidney disease quality standards

Here we quote a news item from the British Kidney Patients Association

We regularly work with the National Institute of Health and social Care Excellence (NICE) to add the perspective and views of kidney patients into their work. In 2011, the first ever CKD Quality Standards were produced, outlining markers of good quality for kidney care, including support for the patient’s mental as well as physical well-being, and recommending that a care planning discussion about treatment is held between the patient and doctor or nurse.

In 2017, NICE is reviewing the standards and have just put forward a proposal (external link). We're surprised to see that most of the standards have been removed and while we are all in favour of simplification we do not believe that removing the need for psycho-social support, or for a care planning discussion is the right thing to do for kidney patients.

We have made it clear that we want some of the previous standards to be retained and have worked closely with our colleagues in the Renal Association, British Renal Society, Renal Psychology Group and the renal services Clinical Reference group and they have also expressed these concerns in their responses to NICE.

We believe that people should be given information that’s appropriate for their kidney disease, and that the way in which they will be cared for should be documented and agreed with them. This standard should therefore remain. Furthermore we would like the standard recommending that “People with kidney failure have access to psychosocial support (which may include support with personal, family, financial, employment and/or social needs)” to be retained. Through our own work we fund much of this type of vital support for patients, yet NICE states that “the previous recommended quality standards are no longer considered national priorities for improvement but may still be useful at a local level”. This gives a disappointing and inaccurate message that these are not important for kidney patients. Something we know just simply isn’t true.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Antidepressants, Exercise, and Dialysis Patients

Having chronic kidney failure and being on dialysis is definitely depressing. But efforts to get these patients on antidepressants often fail, according to research published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Of 101 patients followed for ≤12 months, 39 met criteria for depression (Patient Health Questionnaire 9 score ≥10 on one or more assessments). These 39 patients had depression on 147 of 373 (39%) monthly assessments. At 103 of these 147 (70%) assessments, patients were receiving antidepressant therapy, and at 51 of 70 (70%) assessments, patients did not accept nurses’ recommendations to intensify treatment. At 44 assessments, patients with depression were not receiving antidepressant therapy, and in 40 (91%) instances, they did not accept recommendations to start treatment. The primary reason that patients refused the recommendations was attribution of their depression to an acute event, chronic illness, or dialysis (57%). In 11 of 18 (61%) instances in which patients accepted the recommendation, renal providers were unwilling to provide treatment.

Patients on chronic hemodialysis with depression are frequently not interested in modifying or initiating antidepressant treatment, commonly attributing their depression to a recent acute event, chronic illness, or dialysis. Renal providers are often unwilling to modify or initiate antidepressant therapy. Future efforts to improve depression management will need to address these patients- and provider-level obstacles to providing such care.

Interestingly, a second paper appeared in the very next issue of the journal, saying lower physical activity and depression are associated with hospitalization and shorter survival in CKD !

Physical activity or exercise training helps improve muscle strength and physical and mental function, including benefits on depressive symptoms, which affects at least 20%–30% of patients receiving maintenance hemodialysis (MD). Depression contributes to low quality of life and restricted living among patients with CKD. Thus, exercise can be an interesting intervention to reduce depression and hospitalization and improve quality of life in these patients. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.

Overall, is exercise beneficial to patients with CKD? The answer is yes. Both physical activity and exercise are associated with improved outcomes in these patients. Although a limited number of studies have been reported, all differing by protocol, they show that aerobic and resistance training can improve physical functioning, quality of life, depressive symptoms, survival, or hospitalization

Monday, 23 January 2017

UK National Chronic Kidney Disease Audit Results

The first ever National CKD audit produced worrying results for the UK. With 1 in 20 adults having CKD and often no symptoms until it is too late, those at higher risk eg patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, regular blood and and urine tests should be done, and at least annually if not more often. But the recently released National CKD audit found that on average only 54% of people with diabetes have the relevant urine tests, compared to 86% that have blood tests. In some other groups, including those with high blood pressure, it’s less than 30%.

This makes the chance of identifying patients with problems a bit variable to put it mildly. Further findings showed that whilst over 80% of those who have CKD had had a blood test in the previous year, only 31% had a repeat urine test. For people without diabetes, urine testing rates dropped to less than 15%. This is despite recommendations that effort should be focused on regular review. The report authors also urged GPs to review how they record the fact a patient has CKD on their systems as almost a third of confirmed CKD cases were not given the right coding and 1 in 10 people who were coded as having CKD did not have it.

You can read the full report at the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.

For our American readers, GP is short for General Practitioner, the free medical providers available to all UK residents. The vast majority of UK medical care is provided free by the state's National Health Service.