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Baxter Kidney Patient Education Program Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Hands-on program has educated nearly 80,000 patients in over 30 states on

chronic kidney disease and treatment options since 1997

DEERFIELD, Ill., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- This week marks the tenth anniversary of Baxter Healthcare Corporation's Kidney Patient Educator (KPE) program, an ambitious project that has provided credible, timely information on chronic kidney disease (CKD) and treatment options to nearly 80,000 kidney disease patients in over 30 states since it began in 1997.

Started as a small pilot support program to supplement education by nephrologists (specialized physicians trained in the diagnosis and management of kidney disease), Baxter's KPE program provides kidney disease patients with access to a licensed healthcare professional who can provide unbiased information about the disease and treatments, as well as one-on-one emotional support.

Typically, a CKD patient's physician will contact a Baxter KPE to "enroll" patients in regularly scheduled seminars or one-on-one meetings. To provide this personalized, face-to-face service across the country, each Baxter KPE covers multiple states and can sometimes drive up to 3,000 miles a month reaching out to patients. Meetings can be held in venues as large as a hotel ballroom and as small as a private office in a doctor's clinic, and a KPE may have to speak English, Spanish or French, and depending on the audience, all three in the same meeting.

"Many patients are overwhelmed when they are told they have CKD. They think that it's the end of the world because they have to go on dialysis and don't know what to expect," says Justine Barbour, RN, a KPE based in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area. "We let them know that dialysis is not a death sentence - it's an opportunity to keep living. We clear up misconceptions about CKD and treatment options, provide them an opportunity to ask questions and share reliable information in an understandable way."

The growing prevalence of CKD has led to an increased need for patient education. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that at least 20 million Americans have CKD and 20 million more are at risk. About 400,000 patients have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive, and the number is projected to rise to more than 660,000 by 2010.

This growth in kidney dialysis patients has created a need for not only reliable information, but for professionals who can translate medical information into simple, understandable terms. A CKD patient transitioning to ongoing dialysis treatment has to quickly learn complicated medical concepts and how to ask their doctor the right questions about their care options. A KPE provides a valuable indirect service to nephrologists and nurses by accelerating patient understanding and following up with patients as they weigh their treatment options and consider lifestyle implications.

"When we first meet a patient, we reinforce what the nephrologist has already told them about kidney disease and provide additional information," said Barbour. "Later, we call to see if they have any questions we can answer, so that when they go back to see their doctor, they can have a more informed conversation on what they need to do and why. We continue to follow-up until they begin their therapy, to address additional specific questions and concerns that they may have."

This support is especially important for chronic kidney diseases that have no cure and where ongoing life-sustaining treatment is needed. Numerous research studies on patient education have shown that patients who are actively involved in making and understanding decisions about their therapy have better health outcomes and better adherence to their treatment plan.(1) Other studies have shown that patients who are educated and knowledgeable about their condition and treatment options have fewer complications, and, as a result, fewer hospitalizations, emergency room, clinic and physician visits.(2,3)

Rashid Dalal, M.D., a Belleville, IL nephrologist, works with a Baxter KPE to help him provide an invaluable aspect of care to his patients -- the ability to focus on the "whole person" needs of an individual patient, which includes social, educational and/or financial concerns.

"With the KPE program, patients and their families are just better prepared," said Dalal. "They ask better questions and make better decisions. The transition of pre-ESRD patients to dialysis is more seamless, because there is less confusion regarding available options and less indecisiveness."

The KPE program's anniversary comes as Congress considers rewriting Medicare rules covering ESRD. While some private payers offer patient education prior to dialysis, many Medicare beneficiaries, who account for half of all new dialysis patients, do not receive information until after they begin treatment. The pending legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive pre-ESRD patient education.

For Cynthia Rogers, a Houston, Texas peritoneal dialysis patient, receiving pre-dialysis education was crucial to making good decisions quickly. She was diagnosed with CKD this past June, and by the time she saw her nephrologist a month later, her kidneys were in such rapid decline that she was told that she would need dialysis. Her nephrologist referred her to Gloria Vela, RN, a Baxter KPE who met with Rogers immediately after her doctor's appointment.

"I was a bit in shock and I had to make this quick decision on treatment. I had a lot of questions and I needed to know my options. Gloria gave me more than enough information to make a decision that suits my lifestyle," said Rogers. "You can do some research on the internet and things like that, but it's nothing like talking to a person who can actually answer your questions and tell you about options that you didn't even know were available to you."

Rogers says that the information that she received from Vela gave her confidence and that she "didn't have to second guess or wonder if I made the right decision" when it came time for her to choose her treatment. But she also says that Vela provided something even more important.

"When you first find out that you have to go on dialysis you're terrified," said an emotional Rogers. "The most important thing she did was to take that fear away. She was there for me, she stayed there for me, and I know that even today I have someone that I can count on."

About Baxter

Baxter Healthcare Corporation is the principal U.S. operating subsidiary of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX). Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, assists healthcare professionals and their patients with the treatment of complex medical conditions, including hemophilia, immune disorders, cancer, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma and other conditions. The company applies its expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to make a meaningful difference in patients' lives.


1. Rankin, S.H., & Stallings, K.D. (2001). Patient Education: Principles

and Practice. (4th ed). Philadelphia: Lippincott., 78-129.

2. Yeoh, et. al. (2003). Impact of predialysis care on clinical outcomes.

Hemodialysis International, 7(4), 338-341.

3. Klan, B. et. al. (1998) Predialysis patient education: effects on

functioning and well-being in uraemic patients. Journal of Advanced

Nursing, 28(1), 36-44

SOURCE Baxter International Inc.
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