Multidisciplinary predialysis programs: quantification and limitations of their impact on patient outcomes in two Canadian settings

Am J Kidney Dis. 1997 Apr;29(4):533-40. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(97)90334-6.


A 1993 National Institutes of Health Consensus statement stressed the importance of early medical intervention in predialysis populations. Given the need for evidence-based practice, we report the outcomes of predialysis programs in two major Canadian cities. The purpose of this report was to determine whether the institution of a multidisciplinary predialysis program is of benefit to patients, and to analyze those factors that are important in actualizing those benefits. Data from two different studies is presented: (1) a prospective, nonrandomized cohort study comparing patients who were or were not exposed to an ongoing multidisciplinary predialysis team (St Paul's Hospital) and (2) a retrospective review of outcomes before and after the institution of a predialysis program (The Toronto Hospital). Although created independently in major academic centers in Canada, the programs both aimed to reduce urgent dialysis starts, improve preparedness for dialysis, and improve resource utilization. The Vancouver study was able to demonstrate significantly fewer urgent dialysis starts (13% v 35%; P < 0.05), more outpatient training (76% v 43%; P < 0.05), and less hospital days in the first month of dialysis (6.5 days v 13.5 days; P < 0.05). Cost savings of the program patients in 1993 are conservatively estimated to be $173,000 (Canadian dollars) or over $4,000 per patient. The Toronto study demonstrated success in predialysis access creation (86.3% of patients), but could not realize any benefit in terms of elective dialysis initiation due to well-documented hemodialysis resource constraints. We conclude that an approach to predialysis patients involving a multidisciplinary team can have a positive impact on quantitative outcomes, but essential elements for success include (1) early referral to a nephrology center, (2) adequate resources for dedicated predialysis program staff and infrastructure, and (3) available resources for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) (dialysis stations). In times of economic constraints, objective data are necessary to justify resource-intensive proactive programs for patients with ESRD. Future studies should confirm and extend our observations so that optimum and cost-effective care for patients approaching ESRD is uniformly available.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost Savings
  • Emergencies
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / economics
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Team* / economics
  • Patient Education as Topic* / economics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis* / economics
  • Retrospective Studies