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Kidney Disease Often Undiagnosed by Primary-Care Doctors

A study published in the current issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases has found that primary-care physicians often fail to diagnose patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine asked 304 doctors across the country to diagnose patients exhibiting “mock” symptoms of CKD. Among the participating doctors were kidney specialists, family doctors, and general internists.

According to the study, only 59 percent of family doctors and 78 percent of general internists properly diagnosed CKD compared with 97 percent of kidney specialists.

The rate of referrals to nephrologists, or kidney specialists, was similar – 76 and 81 percent for family doctors and general internists respectively compared with 99 percent of specialists.

“We, as physicians, can certainly do better,” said Dr. L. Ebony Boulware, lead author of the study.

He added, “Millions of people have kidney disease, but a substantial number may not have their disease recognized. Simply put, our study shows that primary care physicians are not recognizing kidney disease in high-risk patients as often as they should.”

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