Blog May 14, 2020

Dialysis Centers Must Prepare for Rising Demand in Pandemic

The pandemic is creating a spike in demand for dialysis services as up to 30% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are suffering from kidney failure – on top of the normal demand for maintenance dialysis. International kidney associations have put out an urgent alert that dialysis centers need adequate resources, including clinical staff, to care for the rising numbers of patients.

After the devastating respiratory consequences of COVID-19, acute kidney injury is the next emerging healthcare and resource issue in this pandemic. The prevalence of kidney failure in some ICUs is so high that centers do not have adequate numbers of dialysis nurses and are also running out of dialysis machines and even dialysate solution. At the same time, they’re struggling to maintain access for the nearly half-million existing dialysis patients.

The presidents of the American Society of Nephrology, the International Society of Nephrology, and the European Renal Association/European Dialysis and Transplant Association issued a joint statement on May 6, 2020, calling for increasing all resources needed by dialysis providers to meet the urgent demand. The statement said that all hospitals and dialysis centers need to be prepared to expand dialysis capacity, including protecting the dialysis population from COVID-19 infection, which is causing high rates of kidney damage.

The statement cautioned of the extreme dangers if the call to increase capacity is not heeded. “Making (dialysis patients) collateral damage to this pandemic would be a tragedy,” the statement said.

Reports of high rates of kidney damage among COVID-19 patients began to surface in hospitals in New York in the early days of the crisis. As infections increase in other areas of the country, kidney injury and the rising need for dialysis are expected to follow.

AMN Healthcare can support hospitals and dialysis centers in quickly ramping up staffing for dialysis nurses and other nephrology specialties to care for COVID-19 patients, while ensuring there’s no interruption in life-saving treatment for patients on maintenance dialysis.