ROCKVILLE, Md. (April 22, 2020) – The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is urging hospitals and health care systems to not systematically exclude dialysis patients from care because they have renal failure. Some states, municipalities, health care systems and other entities have made directives stating that renal failure or dependence on dialysis can be a reason for excluding patients from intensive care unit (ICU) beds or ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis.
"In addition to being illegal, excluding some patients without properly triaging them is immoral and simply unacceptable," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO, in a letter to the CEOs of the Federation of American Hospitals, American Hospital Association, and America's Health Insurance Plans. "End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients who are dependent on dialysis should be given access to a ventilator until the worst of the illness is over and they can eventually breathe on their own.
Americans living with ESRD who are dependent on dialysis have a fighting chance at surviving COVID-19, but the medical staff that triages patients and make these decisions need to be continually informed that ESRD patients on dialysis can live through COVID-19 to be productive members of society. To protect ESRD patients and support the health care workers caring for them, AKF urges hospitals and health systems to follow the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) BULLETIN: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and implement the guidance to avoid discrimination in treatment rationing.
"For decades, our country has prided itself on the fact that our health care system does not discriminate against people with disabilities, including those dependent on dialysis machines," Burton noted. "This pandemic is not the time to be discriminatory as ESRD patients on dialysis can, and should be given all opportunities to, live through COVID-19 to be happy and productive members of society."
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.