Objectives > Efforts in recent years have aimed at increasing physicians’ awareness of the frequent and harmful consequences of late referral to nephrologists of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), shown in repeated concordant studies. We sought to determine whether these efforts have led to improved predialysis care of these patients.
Methods > This study included all 1391 consecutive patients who began maintenance dialysis at Necker Hospital between January 1989 and December 2000. We examined baseline data and outcomes and determined for four three-year periods the percentage of patients who received early specialized care (at least 6 months before onset of dialysis).
Results > Late referral (≪ 6 months before dialysis) did not change significantly over the four periods, remaining around 30%, even during the most recent period (1998-2000). Clinical condition and laboratory indicators of patients referred early but not those referred late improved in the latest period, compared with the initial period (1989-1991). Overall, prevalence of major cardiovascular events (myocardial or cerebral infarction, peripheral arteriopathy, or heart failure) was more than twice as high in patients who received nephrologic care for less than 6 months and nearly twice as high even in those followed 6-35 months than in patients followed for at least 36 months before beginning dialysis. Subsequent mortality after maintenance dialysis was also significantly higher in patients with late referral than in those followed at least 3 years before dialysis. Multivariate Cox proportional model analysis identified graded duration of predialysis nephrologic care as a significant independent factor predictive of risk of mortality while on dialysis.
Conclusion > Late referral of CKD patients for specialist care remains frequent, around 30%, although it is most often unjustified. Late referral deprives the patient of early implementation of a reno- and cardioprotective therapeutic strategy that reduces cardiovascular comorbidity and mortality. Better coordinated cooperation between family doctors and nephrologists, through the implementation of regional healthcare networks, now appears as the most effective way to improve the care of CKD patients.
© 2006 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits réservés.