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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Dec;7(12):2049-57. doi: 10.2215/CJN.03900412. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

The ethics of end-of-life care for patients with ESRD.

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Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Patients with ESRD have extensive and unique palliative care needs, often for years before death. The vast majority of patients, however, dies in acute care facilities without accessing palliative care services. High mortality rates along with a substantial burden of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual symptoms and an increasing prevalence of decisions to withhold and stop dialysis all highlight the importance of integrating palliative care into the comprehensive management of ESRD patients. The focus of renal care would then extend to controlling symptoms, communicating prognosis, establishing goals of care, and determining end-of-life care preferences. Regretfully, training in palliative care for nephrology trainees is inadequate. This article will provide a conceptual framework for renal palliative care and describe opportunities for enhancing palliative care for ESRD patients, including improved chronic pain management and advance care planning and a new model for delivering high-quality palliative care that includes appropriate consultation with specialist palliative care.

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