Background: The prognosis and outcome in patients with end stage renal disease is significantly related to the predialysis care and early or late nephrological referral. Late nephrological referral has been associated with more hospital admissions and mortality at six months after the dialysis was initiated. We lack information about the role of early nephrological referral and its impact in biochemical variables and first hospitalization in our country.
Methods: The charts of all patients that were admitted to peritoneal dialysis in the period 01/1999-06/2001 were reviewed. We divided the population in group A with patients referred to nephrologist more than 3 months before the start of dialysis (early referral) and group B with those patients referred for a period shorter than three months or no referred before the start of dialysis (late referral or no referral). The patient's characteristics, laboratory values, characteristics of the first hospitalization and drugs were analyzed when dialysis was initiated and after six months of follow-up.
Results: Patients in group A were older and the percentage of patients with diabetes and hypertension was higher. The patients with early referral started dialysis with higher levels of hemoglobin (9.2 vs. 8.3 g/dL, p = 0.01) and with lower serum levels of BUN (91 vs. 122.5 mg/dL, p = 0.0001), creatinine (8.4 vs. 12.8 mg/dL, p = 0.0002) and phosphorus (6.4 vs. 7.7 mg/dL, p = 0.01). The length of the first hospitalization was shorter in patients of Group A (5.7 vs. 10.5 days, p = 0.004) and the emergency department was less used to peritoneal catheter placement in this group (46.3 vs. 86.9%, p = 0.01). There were not differences in hospitalization between the two groups after six months.
Conclusion: Patients with early referral to a nephrologist show better biochemical variables, shorter first hospitalization length and higher percentage of elective placement of catheter.