Are "routine" clinical and laboratory examinations of any help in the treatment of chronic hemodialysis patients?

P. Ruggenenti, G. Mecca, G. Remuzzi, D. Coen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relevance of routine physical examinations, laboratory tests, and x-rays in guiding therapeutic decisions was investigated in 54 patients on hemodialysis. Patients were observed for 1 year, while recording all therapeutic interventions and tracing the procedures that had determined them. In no case did a variation in treatment follow the routine physical examination of a patient who was not symptomatic or already signaled for BP or dialytic problems by the hemodialysis nurses. A number of major therapeutic interventions were conversely necessary for acute illnesses that could not be foreseen during the routine physician-patient encounter. Of the many laboratory tests, only the determination of complete blood cell count, serum electrolytes, and calcium and phosphorus levels were frequently associated with therapeutic decisions. No intervention was directly related with x-ray bone examination. On the whole, a subgroup of 11 "high-risk" patients who required frequent and multiple therapeutic interventions was identified, the remaining 43 needing only rare and minor adjustments. It is concluded that routine physical examinations are probably useless in identifying and treating intercurrent problems of patients with chronic end-stage renal failure and that only very few hematochemical laboratory tests should be regularly performed. On the basis of a benefit/risk and benefit/cost examination, it is suggested that personally tailored follow-up schemes would probably be a more appropriate way of monitoring patients on maintenance hemodialysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-27
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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