Baxter ShareSource System: A New Dialysis Option for You

Chronic kidney disease is a quite underestimated subject by ordinary people. This issue is much more socially extended than many people believe, and, in fact, statistics suggest that one in every hundred people may be suffering from this terrible illness today. This problem is one of the main public health issues in several countries, not only because of its disastrous health consequences and because of its high frequency in the population, but because the treatments (dialysis, eminently) to respond to this issue are usually expensive. The main consequence when it comes to chronic kidney disease is that the patient must depend on a kidney transplant or a machine to survive in his or her remaining time of life.

The only option for thousands of people around the world is to sit or lay for three or four hours connected to a machine that removes toxins from the blood system. This is the only way to filter out a series of toxins as well as the excess of fluids in the body, which the kidneys eliminate in normal conditions. This is the normal life situation of millions of patients diagnosed with renal failure who cannot afford a kidney transplant, or who, although they can actually afford it, must wait for a donor for years. The process of dialysis, in any of its forms, must be carried out for life. The body has no vacations, after all.

This therapy has two modalities: hemodialysis, which can be performed three times a week in a health center, and peritoneal dialysis, which is done daily from the home of patients, four times a day. Each month, the specialist in charge of the process monitors the treatment and the condition of each patient and, if something is not going well, he or she makes the appropriate changes to improve the therapy.

Since the end of last year, a new technology allows doctors and patients to change that traditional way of doing dialysis (in any of both ways.) We are talking about the ShareSource platform of Baxter International, a system that automatically transmits (in real time) the data on what is happening with each patient throughout the dialysis therapy. This system not only saves time and money for patients, who no longer have to travel to hospitals or other places where their therapy is carried out, but doctors permanently know if one of their patients stopped using the dialysis system at home, as well as the frequency of use and if it is working properly.

Read also: Great Alternatives to Perform Dialysis at Home, by Joe Cosgrove

This technology for remote patient management was created to improve the patient’s treatment in peritoneal dialysis, in addition to significantly increase the efficiency of hospital centers. This bidirectional communication platform is based on the cloud and is incorporated into the automated peritoneal dialysis system. It not only offers physicians a more accurate and timely visibility of the compliance of the therapy by their home patients, which, in turn, allows the identification and early intervention of possible complications, but it also allows collecting important data that can be later become useful information for new researchers on chronic kidney disease. After all, this system monitors patients permanently. Perhaps, the most positive thing about this technology is the possibility of accessing the patient’s compliance data in time, and thus manage possible clinical complications in advance.

The most common drawbacks that usually occur with dialysis are problems with the catheter performance, which is the hose used for fluid exchange. This is the main cause that usually spoils dialysis treatments. When this kind of issues are identified, the doctor has the possibility of making a prescription to solve what is going wrong with the dialysis on time and avoid hospitalizations or other health complications that may be derived from a poorly carried therapy. This also means saving money to the health system since patients get sick much less.

This may be a good option for those patients who live in remote areas and who find it difficult to travel frequently to health centers to carry out their dialysis therapies or to be checked by their doctors. Actually, thanks to this intelligent system, it is possible to reduce the frequency of medical check-ups to one every two months. This gives patients much more freedom and saves doctors a lot of time.

Video: Connectivity Platform Provides Telemedicine Capabilities for Remote Patient Management

Actually, it is a simple platform to manage, that even works like any smartphone app. There is a main menu which shows a list of patients and what has happened during the last week of treatment with each one of them and generates alerts in case of trouble (if a patient skipped a dialysis session, if there was a problem with the connection, or if there were complications in the process of eliminating toxins, for example.)

Internet and Big Data technology has revolutionized all aspects of human life, including health. In this case, it has meant a great advance, which, in an intelligent and practical way, can help to improve the quality of life of patients, as well as the job of millions of doctors.

* Featured Image courtesy of EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine at Flickr.com

Advertisements

Dialysis and The Elderly: Solution or Mistake?

The elderly seem to depict some degree of declivity soon after they start dialysis. Although dialysis is perhaps one of the world’s most renowned medical development, nursing home individuals and patients who undergo dialysis in hopes of treating any sort of kidney disease showed sustained and evident declivity in their mere ability to perform basic activities. Joe Cosgrove has previously covered the topic of dialysis from different angles; however, it is important to mention the possible complications of starting dialysis in later stages of life.

According to a study, patients with end-stage renal disease worsened within three months soon after starting the treatment: A year after starting the treatment, almost 60% of patients in the aforementioned study passed away, and only 12% still manage to have a decent life—at the same level—as they did prior to undergoing dialysis. In short, and resorting to the findings, although dialysis has been linked to extending the lives of patients and individuals at nursing homes, it does not, however, seem to bring back the kidneys to their initial functional status. The elderly and nursing home residents under dialysis are clearly open to suffering a sustained and evident decline in their kidneys, which also raises the question about whether it does increase the rate of mortality.

An increasing number of elderly individuals with end-stage renal disease in America are starting dialysis: nursing home individuals account for almost 5% of new end-stage renal disease patients and almost 12% of them are above the age of 75. Although dialysis is a viable treatment for individuals with renal disease—at least to some extent—, the benefits and the perks commonly associated with the treatment seem to be uncertain in elderly patients. According to the study, the rate of mortality in the first year soon after starting the treatment surpasses the 35% among patients older than 75 years of age and surpasses 55% among those individuals older than 85 years of age. Additionally, the alleged benefits on the quality of life and the extent to which the treatment seems to extend the patient’s lifespan, especially in the elderly, are still to be determined.

Researchers and physicians gathered information from a national databank of patients currently undergoing dialysis with that from a national databank of nursing home and elderly patients to identify up to 3,700 different individuals who started the treatment between 1998 and 2000. The functional performance of the subjects was initially measured using a monthly-based scale; however, researchers deemed more suitable a 3, 6, 9 and 12 months scale to measure the alleged effects of the treatment on nursing home patients. After assessing the findings, the scores were compared to a previous assessment made soon before they started the treatment.

The period before and after the beginning of the treatment is definitely the riskier stage, for the vast majority of subjects and patients have increasingly tough conditions, and many end up passing away in the following months.

Efforts to offset the risk commonly associated with the treatment, and efforts to make special emphasis on the goals of actually improving the quality of life of the patients ought to be addressed during this period rather than after individuals have started to undergo the treatment. Be that as it may, these findings are not 100% conclusive, for the lack of a control group may have resulted in the inevitable misinterpretation and underestimation of the functional declivity that occurs after the beginning of the treatment. Nonetheless, many physicians and clinicians assume that starting a somewhat conservative therapy is basically a death sentence for all those nursing home patients and the elderly; however, they also acknowledge that there have been small studies that suggest that both mortality and the aftermath of the treatment is quite similar in both demographics, and even in those elders who start the treatment and those who do not.

old-people-couple-together-connected

Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

Prior to starting dialysis, the study concludes, nursing home patients and elderly individuals must acknowledge the real benefits of starting the treatment at such age, and they must be informed about the possibility of choosing a different approach aside from dialysis, for the risk, in light of the findings of the study is quite high. According to a recent survey, almost 95% of patients irrespective of their age and their families want to be given clear and concise information about the benefits of starting the treatment and whether or not their lifespan will be extended. As mentioned in previous articles, nephrologists and physicians must discuss these issues with their patients, for there is a really high percentage of clinicians who never address the possibilities their patients have at hand. Providing the elderly with precise information may mark the difference between having a good end or making it a nagging, excruciating, time.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

Dialysis: Almost 70 decades of hard work and progress

Like many other medical procedures and aids, dialysis has been around for a while. For the past 70 decades, it has helped thousands (if not millions) of individuals whose kidneys stopped working properly.

Kidneys can fail due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes genetics get in the way and make them stop working, or certain environmental conditions or experiences change the way they work and lead individuals to a kidney failure or a chronic kidney disease. This has happened to humans for as long as they have existed and it will probably keep on happening for as long as we are on earth.

Regardless the reason why kidneys fail, for those whose bodies are not able to filter the waste that runs in the blood, undergoing dialysis procedures becomes necessary.

Nowadays, this is a solution easy to picture. But, has anyone asked how we managed to make it until this point? Years of sacrifice and medical progress had to get in the way for us to be able to know dialysis as it works today.

In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share some historical facts related to dialysis.

Back in the 40’s

Dialysis is a 20th-century invention. It was first invented by Dr. Willem Kolff back in 1943 when this young doctor from the Netherlands decided to construct the first artificial kidney or dialyzer.

The process of developing this kidney was long and took Dr. Kolff more than 10 years. It started when he was a student at the University of Groningen Hospital, in his natal country. Kolff watched how a young man died in a painful and slow way because his kidneys fail and there was nothing to be done. This situation inspired Kolff and moved him to create an artifact that could work as the kidneys.

Kolff read every book available at the University’s library that talked about the kidneys and how the filtered waste from the blood. This is how bumped into an article written in 1913 by a famous pharmacologist named John Abel. In this article, Abel described the hemodialysis process in animals. Abel’s work inspired Kolff to create an artificial kidney.

When Kolff was doing his first experiments, the World War II started, forcing him to work at a Dutch hospital in a remote location once the Nazis overtook the country. This hard conditions never stopped him and he kept on working on the artificial kidney project.

kolff artificial kidney 1946_dializer_dialysis

Image courtesy of rob koopman at Flickr.com

Eventually, he came up with a device made with sausage skin, a washing machine, orange juice cans and other items that would allow him to filter waste from the blood. His invention took place under the Nazi domain and risking his life to make it possible.

By 1943, Kolff’s kidney was finished and ready to be tested. Until 1945, 16 patients were treated unsuccessfully. It wasn’t until that same year that a woman with a uremic coma was successfully treated and regained consciousness.

This is how Kolff’s dialyzer became the first one in history successfully used to treat kidney diseases. It became part of the standard treatment for kidney failure for the next 10 years.

There is hope in the 50’s

In the years to come, Kolff’s invention was improved to treat both acute renal failure and chronic stage renal disease. This was a rough path since most doctors in the 50’s believed that patients with kidney problems couldn’t undergo dialysis for long periods of time and that no man could come up with an artificial kidney that could replace the functions of a real one.

Another challenge that had to be faced back then was the strong damage veins and arteries of patients were suffering. This makes hard for patients to take the treatment for long periods of time.

It wasn’t until Professor Dr. Belding Scribner at the University of Washington came up with the idea of connecting plastic tubes to the dialyzer, and inserting one of these tubes into the patient’s arteries and veins, that would remain open for as long as the treatment lasted. These tubes had the shape of a U that would work as a bypass.

Later in time, this device was improved with a new material called Teflon and operated as a dialysis bypass that allowed patients to be treated for longer periods of time, extending their lives until an organ was available for a transplant.

From the 60’s to today

Dialysis Machine_Dialysis on children_joe cosgrove

Image courtesy of Amber Case at Flickr.com

Dialysis patients became numerous and facilities couldn’t serve all of them. Committees would decide who was going to dialysis and who had to wait. This is how bioethics committees were created and healthcare treatments became fairly available for many individuals who needed them. Portable dialysis machines were created and people could undergo dialysis at their homes.

During the past five decades, dialysis machines have been improved by technology. Kidney medicine has also evolved in a way kidney conditions can be treated with multiple alternatives. Some people use the peritoneal dialysis treatment and some other decide to undergo the hemodialysis one. Regardless the options, it is thanks to doctors like Kolff and Scribner that dialysis treatment became real.