-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the event of a natural
or man-made disaster, such as a tornado, earthquake or fire, most
dialysis patients don't have a plan to get the medical assistance
they need, according to a new study.
Although these kidney-disease patients rely on technology and
dialysis clinics to survive, researchers from the University of
North Carolina School of Medicine found that many don't know the
address of a backup center. This lack of preparation could
seriously endanger the patients' health, the researchers said.
"A dialysis patient relies on frequent visits to a dialysis facility to maintain his or her health, and when patients cannot receive dialysis due to lack of clean water, lack of electricity, impassable roadways, etc., severe medical complications can occur quite quickly," Mark Foster, a student at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "This lack of preparation should stimulate measures to ensure better preparation for future disasters."
In surveying 311 dialysis patients, the researchers found that
only 43 percent knew where to find an alternative dialysis center.
They also found that just 42 percent had their medical records at
home so they could travel with them on short notice.
The study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the
Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology, also showed that only 40 percent of the patients discussed the option of staying with friends or relatives during a disaster, and just 15 percent had a medical bracelet or necklace they could wear if disaster strikes.
However, 57 percent of those polled knew what type of diet they
should follow during a disaster, and 63 percent had a two-week
supply of extra medications they could rely on in an emergency.
The study authors said dialysis centers and medical
organizations should do a better job of educating dialysis patients
on ways to prepare for potential disasters.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on
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