Be confident. Be insistent. Get answers.

Talk with your doctor about your chances of having kidney disease. Your doctor may not bring it up, but you can. If you have family members with kidney disease or have risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor about your kidney health and the genetic causes of kidney disease.  

It is your right to have quality health care. Actively participating in your care, advocating for yourself and knowing your rights can help ensure you get the quality care you deserve.   

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Prevention 

Finding kidney disease early is critical

When kidney disease is caught in the early stages, you have less chance of developing kidney failure and needing dialysis or a transplant. Although there is no cure for kidney disease, medications and changes to what you eat can keep it from getting worse and prevent your kidneys from failing.  

 

Take charge of your health 

You are an important member of your health care team 

Get a referral to a kidney doctor

If your eGFR result is lower than 60, talk to your doctor about if and when a referral to a kidney doctor (nephrologist) makes sense. Most people should see a nephrologist when their eGFR is less than 30. But when you should be referred can depend on many things, including: how much protein is in your urine, if your doctor suspects a rare or genetic disease, or if you have a higher risk of your kidney disease worsening quickly (such as with APOL-1). Keep track of your blood pressure, blood sugar (glucose) and take all medicines exactly as prescribed by your doctor.  

Be your own best advocate 

Be proactive with your doctor 

Come to your appointment with a written list of your symptoms, questions and concerns. If you feel that your doctor isn't taking your concerns seriously, there are things you can do to make sure you get the care you deserve. Know your rights as a patient. 

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  • You have the right to be treated with respect at all times, free from discrimination. 

  • You have the right to have your personal health information kept private. 

  • You have the right to choose the treatments that feel best for you. 

  • You have the right to culturally and linguistically appropriate testing, treatment, counseling and other care to prevent and manage kidney disease.  

  • You have the right to an accurate and early kidney disease diagnosis, with timely referral to a nephrologist.   

  • If you do not understand something, you have the right to ask your doctor and keep asking until they are clear. Use the teach-back method to make sure you understand — repeat what your doctor said back to them in your own words. 

  • You have the right to get a second opinion or take time to think about any treatment your doctor is recommending and talk to your family about it .

  • You have the right to participate in clinical trials and access the latest kidney disease medical innovations.  

Addressing health care biases 

A member of the American Kidney Fund Health Equity Coalition discusses how unconscious bias impacts health care, and the reasons why people may not feel that the U.S. health care system is "for them." 

Ready, set, take action 

In spite of the challenges, it only takes one person at a time — armed with the right tools and knowledge — to take lifesaving action. The American Kidney Fund provides the help