Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Wadhwa: Patients with end stage renal disease rely on dialysis treatments to survive. Hence this population is very vulnerable during emergencies or disaster situations. We believe that patient education on an individual level is the cornerstone of a successful disaster plan. In this quality improvement study, we assessed disaster preparedness in our dialysis patients and evaluated multidisciplinary approach to disseminate this information. Multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, dieticians and social workers reviewed preparedness-relevant topics with the patients. Patients were provided purple cards (created by KCER) with emergency information to carry with them at all times. A simple yes/no questionnaire asking disaster preparedness relevant questions was given to the patients before and after this education was provided. Disaster preparedness was defined as perceived preparedness (survey question) and a positive response to at least three key questions-having a plan they have had discussed with a family member or dialysis unit, knowledge of backup dialysis facility and familiarity with emergency diet plan.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Wadhwa: While 60% of the patients thought they were prepared for an emergency (perceived), based on our defining criteria (listed above): 80% of patients were not prepared for an emergency. About 50% of them did not have a plan or know about a backup facility. 35% were unaware of an emergency diet plan. 95% of the patients were interested in learning about emergency preparedness and 99% found the information provided during the project useful. Using similar criteria for preparedness, follow up survey showed 80% of the patients felt they were better prepared for a disaster or emergency situation.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Wadhwa: Emergency preparedness in dialysis patients was lacking, but they were willing to learn. This study highlights that a multidisciplinary approach in an outpatient dialysis unit setting is feasible and effective in educating patients about disaster preparedness.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Wadhwa: Since this is a single center experience, it would be interesting to see the impact of this education if/when implemented on a wider scale. Another important aspect will be to identify a reasonable interval/timing (annual/seasonal..) to continue providing this education.
Dialysis Preparedness in Dialysis Patients via Multidisciplinary Approach