Educating Dialysis Patients about Emergency Preparedness

Philadelphia—A multidisciplinary approach in an outpatient dialysis center to emergency preparedness in dialysis patients is feasible and effective to educate patients about creating plans for maintaining dialysis during disasters.

That was the main finding of a study conducted recently by Anuradha Wadhwa, MD, and colleagues. The researchers presented study results in a poster session during Kidney Week 2014 in a poster titled Disaster Preparedness in Dialysis Patients via Multidisciplinary Approach.

For patients who depend on dialysis to survive, emergencies and disasters can place them in life-threatening situations. According to the researchers, the cornerstone of a successful disaster plan is patient education on an individual level. Despite the availability of information on disaster preparedness in printed materials, the level of disaster preparedness is “suboptimal,” the researchers said.

This quality improvement study was designed to assess disaster preparedness among dialysis patients at a single center and to evaluate a multidisciplinary approach to dissemination of disaster preparedness information. The study consisted of two similar surveys (initial and follow-up one month after completion of initial survey). The questions required yes or no responses. Patients were approached during dialysis to participate.

When the initial survey was completed, patients were provided with information on disaster preparedness by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, physicians, dieticians, and social workers. Each member of the team discussed the information with the patients. The study defined disaster preparedness as subjective preparedness (based on response to a survey question) and a positive response to at least three key questions: (1) having a plan that was discussed with a family member or dialysis unit; (2) knowledge of backup dialysis facility; and (3) familiarity with an emergency diet plan.

Of 132 eligible patients, 124 completed both surveys. Average age of respondents was 62 years, 52% were male, and 58% were African American. The majority (60%) of respondents subjectively thought they were prepared for an emergency; however, based on defining criteria, 80% were not prepared.

Approximately 50% did not have a plan or know about a backup facility, and 35% were unaware of an emergency diet plan. Responses indicated that 95% of respondents were interested in learning about emergency preparedness and 99% thought the information provided was useful. Responses to the follow-up survey demonstrated that 80% were better prepared than they were on the initial survey.

In conclusion the researchers said, “Emergency preparedness in dialysis patients was lacking, but they were willing to learn.”