Importance of Clinical Lab Testing for Patients At Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease Heralded During National Kidney Month


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Noting the critical role routine clinical lab tests play in the diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and many other diseases – such as diabetes and high blood pressure – that may lead to or develop following a CKD diagnosis, the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) today recognized National Kidney Month this March as a time to increase education and awareness around this oftentimes debilitating condition.

“Physicians use three common blood tests to determine the degree of kidney damage, the likely rate of progression and any other contribution conditions,” said Alan Mertz, President and CEO of ACLA.  “These routine lab tests help the doctor determine the appropriate course of treatment and without them, the next step in care is just a guessing game.”

CKD is a widespread and costly condition affecting 26 million Americans, yet regular blood and urine laboratory tests can often control the progression of CKD and provide early detection of other health conditions requiring the need for medical intervention.   Determining these conditions is increasingly important because patients with diabetes or high blood pressure are at a much higher risk of developing CKD. Other complications from CKD are cardiovascular disease, anemia and bone disease. Factoring in this information is critical to helping the physician choose the best clinical approach for individualized management of CKD.

“Lab test results, when establishing early diagnosis of a chronic condition, prevent costly complications down the road that undiagnosed or advanced disease helps escalate,” noted Mertz. “Hospitalizations, risk of heart attack and kidney failure result in greater cost to the health system.  In many cases, these are avoidable costs, but most importantly, information provided by lab tests allows patients to access the care they need early on before conditions worsen.  We can quantify savings to the healthcare system, but better health and longer lives are priceless.”

In 2005, chronic kidney disease cost Medicare $59.8 billion, 18% of Medicare spending at the time, with rapid growth projected. For the patients and families affected by CKD, a 2004 study found that the costs of care for patients with CKD were roughly double those of patients who did not suffer from the disease, $18,000 vs. $9,800. In addition, the costs of complications and related disorders like diabetes drove costs even higher, valuing at almost $36,000, more than three times the price tag of those who caught and controlled the disease early.

“From identifying the early warning signs to slowing and even preventing the cascading complications of kidney function decline, lab testing is critical at every stage of chronic disease management to ensure that all Americans receive important, life-saving results,” said Mertz.

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