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Bansal AD, Schell JO
Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, Renal-Electrolyte Division, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Most patients who rely on dialysis for treatment of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) never receive a kidney transplant. Therefore, it is important for nephrology providers to feel comfortable discussing the role of dialysis near the end of life (EOL). Advance care planning (ACP) is an ongoing process of learning patient values and goals in an effort to outline preferences for current and future care. This review presents a framework for how to incorporate ACP in the care of dialysis patients throughout the kidney disease course and at the EOL. Early ACP is useful for all dialysis patients and should ideally begin in the absence of clinical setbacks. Check-in conversations can be used to continue longitudinal discussions with patients and identify opportunities for symptom management and support. Lastly, triggered ACP is useful to clarify care preferences for patients with worsening clinical status. Practical tools include prognostication models to identify patients at risk for decline; ACP documents to operationalize patient care preferences; and communication guidance for engaging in these important conversations. Interdisciplinary teams with expertise from social work, palliative care, and hospice can be helpful at various stages and are discussed here.
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