Reducing Missed Dialysis Treatments to Improve Outcomes

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The Tar River Clinic staff.

The link between missed treatments and health complications for patients with kidney failure has been clearly documented in previous studies.

In a 2014 study of more than 180,000 patients, researchers from Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) found that a missed treatment led directly to increases in emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The analysis published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, also concluded that patients who miss a treatment have poorer outcomes and much higher rates of depression.

“Our study found that patients with private transportation to dialysis were far less likely to miss an appointment and had significantly better outcomes when compared to patients relying on public transportation,” said Dr. Frank Maddux, Chief Medical Officer at FMCNA and co-author of the study.

FMCNA researchers have since found that patients are also more likely to miss dialysis and end up in the hospital when their treatment is scheduled on a holiday, on their birthday, during a major sporting event or when the weather is bad.

“These study results gave us a new way to speak with our patients and care teams about the importance of regular treatments and some of the potential barriers to treatment,” said Dr. Maddux. “It also helped improve the way we use predictive analytics to identify when patients are at risk of missing a treatment to foster their keeping to the disciplines of their schedule.”

The study has helped inform many new strategies implemented at the clinic level that are now showing promising results through early intervention and better understanding of the complex challenges patients often face.

“We’re here to support our patients and help them live their lives, but they can only live their lives well if they get good dialysis,” Derflinger said.