After three months, patients who went through the RightStart program had better nutrition, as reflected by levels of albumin in the blood; and less anemia, as indicated by the hematocrit level. RightStart patients also improved their scores on tests of knowledge regarding ESRD and its treatment and on quality of life and mental health scores.
"This result may be an indication that the program had a positive impact on the depression that is common among dialysis patients, as they experience a life changing event," says Dr Hakim.
In the year after starting dialysis, RightStart patients spent fewer days in the hospital: an average of 7.2 days, compared to 10.5 days for patients not receiving RightStart.
RightStart was also associated with nearly a one-half reduction in mortality rate: 17 per 100 patient-years, compared to 30 per 100 patient-years in the comparison group. For individual patients, RightStart reduced the risk of death in the year after starting dialysis by about 40 percent. "Such results speak for themselves," Dr. Hakim says. "We are actively expanding the program, and making program changes to best meet the patients' needs, based on feedback from the patients and the outcomes data."
For patients starting dialysis, the mortality rate is "alarmingly high"about double the rate in patients who have been on dialysis longer than 90 days, according to Dr. Hakim. In designing the RightStart program, the researchers hoped to address some of the reversible risk factors contributing to this early mortality, such as nutrition, anemia, dialysis dose, and patient empowerment. "These new patients have special needs and require more intense focus during the early period of treatment," says Rebecca Wingard, RN, MSN, CNN, Vice-President of Quality Initiatives of Fresenius Medical Services an
|Contact: Shari Leventhal|
American Society of Nephrology