Kidney failure rises, but risk of death declines

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 27, 2006

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The overall incidence of acute renal failure more than quadrupled from 1992 to 2001, but the rate of in-hospital death for these patients dropped significantly, according to a pair of studies published in the April Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

One study looked at claims data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, finding that acute renal failure among Medicare recipients increased by 11% per year and was more common in those who were older, male and African-American.

"It is essential to study the causes of the increased incidence of ARF," said Jay L. Xue, DVM, PhD, lead author and a researcher with the United States Renal Data System Coordinating Center at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The other study, which analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample run by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, found that, although ARF increased the risk of death in comparison with other medical conditions, mortality rates from 1988 to 2002 declined from 40% to 20% among those who did not require dialysis. Among those who did require this procedure, the death rate declined from 41% to 28%.

"The improvement in survival among patients with severe kidney failure suggests that doctors are getting better at treating these extremely ill patients," said Sushrut S. Waikar, MD, lead author on that paper and a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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