Hospice Criteria for Renal Disease Patients
Kidney disease affects the body’s ability to filter waste products out of the blood, maintain blood pressure and remove excess fluid from blood. During the end stages of kidney disease, one or both kidneys fail completely. Toxins build up in the bloodstream and eventually lead to organ failure throughout the body.
Patients with chronic kidney disease may be eligible for hospice services if they:
Typically, hospice for renal disease is designed for patients with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Patients entering hospice must not be pursuing curative treatment for the disease. This includes treatment options such as dialysis and kidney transplants.
In some cases, a patient may be eligible for dialysis but choose to not pursue this treatment option or to halt dialysis when the signs of kidney failure reach a specific level. Patients eligible for dialysis treatment who make the choice to discontinue dialysis may be eligible for hospice if they meet the above criteria, while current dialysis patients may be eligible for palliative care.
Choosing Hospice for Renal Disease
Deciding when to enter hospice involves discussions between the patient, the patient’s caregivers and the patient’s doctor or healthcare professionals. Caregivers might include adult children, a spouse or family friends helping care for the renal patient. Referrals are typically made by a primary care physician, but caregivers and patients can request a referral.
If a patient doesn’t meet the criteria for hospice care, palliative care may be another option. With palliative care, kidney patients may continue to pursue treatment options such as dialysis. Patients who have a life expectancy of more than 6 months may also opt for palliative care if they require extra assistance beyond what family members or friends can provide. Palliative care includes many of the same services as hospice, including managing symptoms and assistance with everyday tasks.
Consider discussing hospice options before kidney disease reaches the end stages to ensure everything is in place when the time comes. Because this disease is progressive, kidney disease patients can consider the typical stages of symptoms and decide what specific disease milestones should necessitate the start of hospice care.
In general, hospice patients are less likely to experience emergency hospitalization than kidney failure patients who don’t utilize hospice services. Chronic kidney disease patients who require significant end-of-life care can also cause their caregivers emotional and mental stress, and hospice helps relieve this burden.