The Italian Society of Nephrology (SIN) sponsored in 2004 a National Census of the Italian renal and dialysis units. This paper presents the main structural, technical, organizational features, as well as the human resources and the activities of three South-East regions of Italy: Basilicata (B), Calabria (C), and Puglia (P).
Epidemiology: incidence of dialysis patients was 149 per million population (pmp) in B, 134 pmp in C and 172 pmp in P; prevalence of dialysis patients 729, 694 and 886 pmp, respectively; prevalence of transplanted patients 188 in B, 264 in C and 249 pmp in P; gross mortality rate of dialysis patients was 12.7% (B), 12.2% (C) and 10.8% (P).
Type of vascular access in prevalent dialysis patients: arteriovenous fistula: 83.9% (B), 87.7% (C) and 86.5% (P); central venous catheter: 14.2% (B), 8.4% (C) and 11.2% (P); vascular graft 1.9% (B), 3.9% (C) and 2.3% (P).
Structural resources: nephrological beds 37, 34 and 88 pmp, respectively; dialysis stations 265, 209 and 207 pmp.
Personnel resources: renal physicians 45 (B), 67 (C) and 64(P) pmp; renal nurses 189, 190 and 207 pmp; each nephrologist cares for 16 (B), 10 (C) and 14 (P) dialysis patients, whereas each renal nurse takes care of 3.8 (B), 3.7 (C) and 4.3 (P) dialysis patients.
Activity: hospitalizations 1378, 1834 and 3439 pmp, respectively; renal biopsies 40 (B), 64 (C) and 107 (P) pmp. The main goal of this project was to create a reference for benchmarking studies. Therefore, data from the Puglia region were compared to data from other regions with similar population size (such as Piemonte and Emilia-Romagna). Moreover, a Census may became a useful qualitative tool for renal registries: this report compares data from the Census with data collected by the dialysis and transplantation registry of the Puglia region. Generally speaking, prevalence for Basilicata and Calabria is close to the Italian one, whereas incidence is inferior; things are opposite in Puglia. Furthermore, compared to Basilicata, Calabria and Italy on average, the Puglia region shows a significant higher number of in-patient beds and a lower DRG weight. Compared to Piemonte, Emilia Romagna and Italy on average, all the three South-East regions do not show differences in number/pmp of dialysis centres. More physicians (nephrologists = 80%) are reported to be active in Puglia and Calabria, compared to Piemonte and Emilia Romagna. Nurses in Puglia look after a greater number of dialysis patients than in Calabria and Basilicata. The number of renal biopsies/ pmp is similar to the Italian mean only in Puglia; it is inferior in the other two regions. These data highlight many differences among these three South-East regions, as well as among Piemonte, Emilia Romagna and Puglia. A relevant inequality in health care structures and resources has been found and discussed.