NAACP endorses dialysis patient care state legislation
In 2016, more than 1,770 California African-Americans started dialysis treatment, and 1,360 Black dialysis patients died
California NAACP: 9,500 African-American dialysis patients would benefit from SB 349
SACRAMENTO – The California NAACP recently endorsed legislation to improve dialysis patient care in California that affects 9,500 African-Americans.
“Without this bill, the more than 66,000 patients who rely on California’s dialysis clinics will continue to receive care in clinics that are not held accountable to best practices for staffing and patient transition times,” wrote Alice Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the NAACP, in a July 13 letter to Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, the author of SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act. “As end stage renal disease impacts more Californians each year, it is important to make sure that their dialysis treatment is as safe as possible, and SB 349 would help to make dialysis safer.”
African-Americans are disproportionately affected by kidney failure. While they represent 6.5 percent of California’s population, African-Americans comprise 15 percent of all dialysis patients. Last year, more than 1,770 African-American patients in California started dialysis treatment, and 1,360 Black dialysis patients died, according to a report prepared for the State of California.
In addition, a study by UCLA Professor of Medicine, Dr. Keith Norris, found dialysis clinics in predominantly Black communities have higher mortality rates and lower compliance with performance targets. Black dialysis patients are 20 percent more likely to be hospitalized for infections than White patients.
SB 349 calls for annual inspections of dialysis clinics, safer staffing levels and more recovery time for patients. In California, dialysis clinics are inspected on average only every five to six years, whereas nursing homes in the state must be inspected every year. SB 349 mandates 45 minutes between patients to allow more time for their wounds to close and for staff to sanitize the equipment and prevent infections. The bill passed the California Senate in May 2017 and awaits a vote in the California Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – made a combined $3.9 billion in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States in 2016 but fiercely resist SB 349.
Dialysis workers have reported situations where they must monitor and care for 10 or more patients at the same time for hours on end, raising concerns when multiple patients are at risk of falling blood pressure, fainting, having some other complication or just needing to use the restroom.
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