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Kidney patients need more information: survey

Kidney census reveals patients need to know more about dialysis.

Results from a recent survey conducted by Kidney Health Australia have shown that patients facing dialysis need a greater understanding of the choices available to them.

Kidney Health Australia conducted the census ‘The Consumer Perspectives on Dialysis: First National Census’ to investigate the experiences, perceptions and preferences of people currently undertaking dialysis in Australia. It also aimed to better understand what the barriers may be for undertaking dialysis in the home.

CEO of Kidney Health Australia Anne Wilson said the survey had provided an important insight into what patients knew about their treatment options and how they felt about the process.

She said it revealed patients needed to be made more fully aware of the variety of treatments available and how these different treatments might suit their needs. Wilson said home dialysis, for example, had shown to be more beneficial for a patient's health and was more cost effective to the health system.

"Hospital dialysis costs the Australian health care system $79,072 per patient per year compared to $49,137 for home haemodialysis. Travelling for treatment is also costly for individuals in terms of time and money and at home treatment can be conducted on a more regular basis or even overnight, but of course there are also ongoing costs associated with home treatment."

However, Wilson said the survey revealed that many dialysis patients had not even been informed about the option of home dialysis by their renal specialist, while many of the respondents said medical staff had not sufficiently educated them regarding the type of dialysis treatment they were on.

"The results also showed that once patients have become established in their particular form of dialysis, they are less likely to switch modes of treatment, so patients need to be educated and alerted early on in their treatment process about the option of home dialysis and other treatment options," she said.

Wilson said home dialysis however would not suit everyone and would not be able to be managed by every household and patient.

"Many people find the social interaction and connection with other people they receive while undertaking dialysis at a public hospital or satellite centre helps them tremendously. What's vitally important is that patients are made to understand the choices they have and how that will impact on their lives."

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