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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Aug;25(8):1647-51. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013101082. Epub 2014 May 15.

A patient-centered vision of care for ESRD: dialysis as a bridging treatment or as a final destination?

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Division of Nephrology and Infectious Diseases, AZ Sint-Jan Brugge-Oostende, Bruges, Belgium;
Geriatric Research and Education Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto, Palo Alto, California; and Division of Nephrology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California.


The ESRD population is heterogeneous, including patients without severe comorbidity for whom dialysis is a bridge to transplantation or a long-term maintenance treatment, as well as patients with a limited life expectancy as a result of advanced age or severe comorbidity for whom dialysis will be the final treatment destination. The complex medical and social context of this latter group fits poorly in the homogeneous, disease-centered, and process-driven approach of many clinical practice guidelines for dialysis. In this commentary, we argue that the standards of treatment allocated to each individual patient should be defined not merely by his or her disease state, but also by his or her preferences and prognosis. In this more patient-centered approach, three attainable treatment goals with a corresponding therapeutic approach could be defined: (1) dialysis as bridging or long-term maintenance treatment, (2) dialysis as final treatment destination, and (3) active medical management without dialysis. For patients with a better overall prognosis, this approach will emphasize complication prevention and long-term survival. For patients with a limited overall prognosis, strictly disease-centered interventions often impose a treatment burden that does not translate into a proportional improvement in quantity or quality of life. For these patients, a patient-centered approach will place more emphasis on palliative management strategies that are less disease specific.


dialysis; geriatric nephrology; quality of life

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