Dialysis patients not told of transplants
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reviewed the records of the U.S. Renal Data System and found that some patients spend five years getting debilitating dialysis treatment before it is put on the kidney transplant list in the nation, while others who could benefit from transplants, and never on the list .
The newspaper found that kidney transplants add an average of 10 years to the life of a patient and a kidney transplant which costs Medicare about $ 50,000 less to treat a dialysis patient. But the newspaper found the largest providers of dialysis need a large number of patients covered by insurance to offset the lower payments to providers for Medicare dialysis.
“In the ideal world, money was not a problem and if everyone was honest, everyone referred to a transplant immediately,” Dr. Bruce Kaplan, the newspaper said. Kaplan is the Chief of Nephrology and Medical Director of Abdominal Transplant Program at the University of Arizona Medical Center.
The newspaper found that 32,000 of the nearly 106,000 people who began treatment for kidney failure in 2006 were not told about the possibility of a transplant, according to the latest information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. And only 16 percent of dialysis patients listed for kidney transplants in 2006, although the federal government’s goal is 30 percent for next year.
“The transplant should be mandated, because the results are better, the quality of life is better and less costly,” said Dr. Tom Parker III, a kidney specialist in Dallas who co-chaired a summit on dialysis failures Harvard Medical School in the spring.
The newspaper found that the $ 65 billion a year industry needs dialysis insured patients to offset losses from treating Medicare patients and profit, according to documents filed by companies dialysis providers.
But some doctors say there are not enough organs available for all kidney patients. Nearly 56,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants in the United States, but only 16,000 get each year, according to United Network for Organ Sharing, the national nonprofit that tracks transplants.
And some companies oppose the idea of dialysis patients are not told about all treatment options, including transplants.
“The idea that people do not report what we could make money, I reject it completely,” said Dr. Allen Nissenson, DaVita Chief Medical, which has about 1,500 dialysis clinics.
DaVita patients are given lists of surgeons and transplant centers within 90 days of starting treatment, Nissenson said.