This Group of Virus Patients Adds New Wrench to Treatment

COVID-19 patients with kidney failure need dialysis, and supplies may be running short
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2020 9:20 AM CDT
Major New Virus Problem Is 'Stressing the Whole System'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/trismile)

A new wrinkle in treating COVID-19 patients in New York City points to the complexities of dealing with those sickened by the coronavirus. Politico reports that about one-fifth of virus patients in the ICU in the city's hospitals require dialysis for kidney failure, often for weeks. But dialysis supplies—especially dialysis fluids, as well as equipment and the staff to run it—are now running low. In some area hospitals, that figure is as high as 30%, which is "stressing the whole system," per the head of the American Society of Nephrology's coronavirus/dialysis task force. "I've never seen anything remotely like this," says Alan Kliger. It's an issue that apparently blindsided medical staff, and they're now struggling to get ahead of any shortages—and not just in NYC, but also in other hot spots such as New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle.

The Chicago Tribune and Washington Post report that America's 500,000 dialysis patients are especially susceptible to contracting the virus in the first place, and many are now fearful about receiving dialysis among dozens of other patients in large facilities. "Because patients need dialysis to live, self-quarantine at home is not an option," an ASN spokeswoman tells the Post. The fear is that COVID-19 could sweep through a dialysis center, sending those patients to ERs that aren't equipped to care for all their needs. This may lead to what Dr. Holly Kramer, a board member for the National Kidney Foundation, tells the New Haven Register would be a "huge paradigm shift": a much-needed but complex transition to at-home dialysis. (More dialysis stories.)

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