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Transplantation. 2002 Jun 27;73(12):1918-23.

Late nephrologist referral and access to renal transplantation.

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Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Our aim was to explore a possible association between late nephrologist referral before onset of renal replacement therapy (RRT) and the likelihood of receiving a renal transplant.


For the period of 1991 to mid-1996 we defined an inception cohort of all patients with new-onset chronic RRT who were New Jersey Medicare and/or Medicaid beneficiaries in the year before RRT and who had been diagnosed with renal disease more than 1 year before RRT. To control for known risk factors and confounders of access to renal transplantation, we conducted a matched case-control study. Using number of days from onset of RRT to transplantation as the index date for cases, we successfully matched 32 transplant recipients (cases) with 197 controls who shared the cases' age (+/-2 years), gender, race (white/black/other), and year of onset of RRT (+/-1 year) but had not received a transplant on index date. Using conditional logistic regression, we evaluated the effects on the likelihood of transplantation of late referral (< or = 90 days vs. >90 days before first RRT) and socioeconomic status (lower socioeconomic status indicated by enrollment in Medicaid or another state program for the poor), further controlling for comorbidity (Charlson score) in the year before index date.


In the full multivariate conditional model, late referral was significantly associated with a much lower rate of renal transplantation (odds ratio [OR]=0.22; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.05, 0.97), as were socioeconomic status (OR=0.18; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.82) and comorbidity status (OR=0.69; 95% CI: 0.48, 1.00).


Delayed referral of renal patients to a nephrologist before RRT is significantly associated with reduced access to renal transplantation, independent of age, gender, race, socioeconomic and comorbidity status. The validity of our result needs to be confirmed in larger populations.

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