Are End-Stage Renal Disease Patients Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

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Most dialysis patients are not prepared to effectively handle man-made or natural disasters, according to a Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN) study. This puts them in great danger of becoming seriously sick or dying in the face of a disaster. The torrential rains that slammed Illinois and the Midwest States last week causing flood warning and road closings, reminds Chronic Kidney Disease patients especially those who are on dialysis to BE PREPARED. If you need dialysis, water, power, supplies or transportation then preparation planning can become critical.

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Although all dialysis centers have a disaster preparedness program in place most patients have no personal disaster plan and are ill prepared for crisis. Only 43% of patients know of alternative dialysis centers and only 42% have adequate medical records at home that would be available to take in short notice.

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Disaster preparation falls along two lines of response. During tornadoes or hurricanes, people must evacuate their homes and seek shelter in other locations. In these situations, dialysis patients should know where alternative dialysis clinics are, have medications on hand, and carry medical documentation of their kidney condition, among other precautions. If you go to a protective shelter, you should inform the person in charge of your special health needs. Other events such as severe ice or snow storms require people to stay in their homes. In these situations, you limit how much you drink, have a stockpile of appropriate foods and medications, and notify local police, fire, electric, water, and emergency services that you are in your home and may need special assistance.

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Not all hospitals may be able to give you maintenance dialysis and some emergency situations can make it very difficult if not impossible to dialyze yourself or get to your dialysis facility. You may want to discuss the possibility of staying with a friend or relative in the case of a disaster. Also, a medical bracelet or necklace could be very helpful should you have to leave your home or fall unconscious. In order to stay healthy and feel secure you must develop a plan to be prepared for any emergency that may arise to disrupt your routine. The suggested strategies should not be used alone to prepare for a medical emergency, recommends that you talk with your healthcare team to develop a personal disaster plan to be used in the case of an emergency.

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