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Dialysis Patients Unprepared for Emergencies

Update Date: Nov 13, 2014 10:58 AM EST

Patients who are on dialysis, which is a form of treatment for the kidneys, are very unprepared for emergencies and disasters, two new studies reported.

In one of the studies, researcher Naoka Murakami, MD, PhD, of Mount Sinai Beth Israel and her colleagues examined how prepared dialysis patients were during Hurricane Sandy, which occurred in New York City in October 2012. The team focused on five regional centers where the storm took out the electricity.

Overall, 26.3 percent of the patients ended up missing their dialysis session. 66.1 percent of them got their dialysis session at a non-regular unit. In terms of preparedness prior to the storm, 17 percent of the patients reported improvements in their levels of preparedness. These patients had attended regional centers that had given out an "emergency information packet."

"Hemodialysis patients are generally unprepared for natural disasters and there is a need to strengthen both patient and dialysis facility disease-awareness and preparedness to improve outcomes in natural disasters," said Dr. Murakami according to the press release. "Our survey showed a positive effect of being prepared through the distribution of a 'dialysis emergency packet,' and we propose that this be more conveniently located on a mobile electronic application."

In the other study, researchers headed by Anuradha Wadhwa, MD from Loyola University Medical Center examined how prepared hemodialysis patients were during disasters. The team found that 60 percent of the patients believed that they would be prepared. However, the majority of them, at 80 percent, were not prepared at all. Half of the patients did not have a plan for treatment during a disaster and 35 percent of them did not know of any emergency diet plans.

"Emergency preparedness in dialysis patients was lacking, but they were willing to learn. This study highlights that a multidisciplinary approach in an outpatient dialysis unit setting is feasible and effective in educating patients about disaster preparedness," commented Dr. Wadhwa.

Both studies stressed the importance of educating dialysis patients about what they can do during emergencies and disasters. The studies will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2014 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center located in Philadelphia, PA.

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