Kidney Patients Must Not Be Excluded from Accessing Needed Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In various locations in the U.S. and in countries around the world, it has recently come to our attention that both private healthcare organizations and governmental entities may be considering policy that would exclude chronic kidney disease patients with end stage kidney disease from accessing intensive care during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a company and as individuals, we strongly object to the abandonment of people who may require certain forms of acute and ongoing life-sustaining treatment.

We acknowledge the potential for immense strain on hospital and healthcare resources, including the care of patients requiring dialysis. Care decisions are further strained by the complexity of COVID-19 treatment. Complications leading to acute kidney injury have spurred shortages in dialysis equipment and personnel—a concern we’re actively addressing to support our health systems. Despite increased risk, patients with kidney disease represent a wide range of demographics and related health issues, many leading active, productive lives, contributing to their families, communities, and our nation. Refusing care to an entire segment of the patient population based on this underlying disease is both unacceptable and inhumane.

With a global workforce of over 120,000 individuals serving patients with kidney disease in more than 150 countries around the world—and in every state in the U.S.— the people of Fresenius Medical Care are proudly serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring patients with kidney disease continue receiving the care they need during this unprecedented crisis.

With our expertise and scale, we understand who these patients are, the families they support, the complexities and social burdens they already face, and the devastating impact withheld care could have.

We recently shared this stance in a global medical advisory to our worldwide employees, physicians, and patients, and have made this document public, in which we outline the medical-moral principles that support this position. On behalf of kidney patients everywhere, we ask that all authorities make critical equipment, supplies, facilities, and care delivery available to patients with advanced kidney diseases when determined by their physicians that they need life-saving therapy. These citizens of our nation deserve equal access to care that fulfills their individual wishes and is based on the knowledge of their own treating physician.

In a historic display of humane and principled leadership, in 1972, the U.S. government took a stand that patients with advanced kidney disease are citizens like any other, and that their lives are worth saving. Now is not the time to abandon these members of our communities. In times like these when the new normal is social and physical distancing, as a society—if not as a global community—we firmly recommend that healthcare organizations come together to work closer than ever before to make sure that people, regardless of their disease, are not purposely left to die.

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