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BACKGROUND: Twenty-five to 30% of new renal replacement therapy (RRT) patients present late to renal services. The proportion in whom this is avoidable, and whether awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD) has reduced its incidence is not known. METHODS: Adult patients starting RRT (2003-2008) in a single unit were grouped according to the time interval between first presentation to the unit and start of RRT: <90 days (late presenters); 90-364 days; ≥ 365 days. 'Late presenters' were classified as follows: acute kidney injury--patients who had acute but irreversible renal failure; 'avoidable' late referrals, if they had known pre-existing CKD and 'unavoidable' late referrals, if they had unpredictable rapid progression of their CKD or had no prior contact with health care. Mortality risk associated with late presentation was explored using multivariable Cox regression. RESULTS: Late presentation was common (24.3%) but late referrals accounted for only 7.4% and 3.9% were avoidable. The incidence of late referrals decreased from 9.2% in 2003-2005 to 5.5% in 2006-2008 (trend P = 0.07). Late presentation was associated with increased mortality after adjusting for comorbidity, transplantation and permanent vascular access, and the majority of late presenters died due to malignancy or withdrawal of RRT. CONCLUSIONS: The lower incidence of late referrals and the falling trend could be due to implementation of automated estimated glomerular filtration rate reporting and the increased awareness of CKD in primary care. Future prospective studies are needed to examine the extent to which frailty contributes to this mortality risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Nephrol Dial Transplant

Publication Date





3646 - 3651


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Comorbidity, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Glomerular Filtration Rate, Humans, Kidney Failure, Chronic, Male, Middle Aged, Prognosis, Quality of Health Care, Referral and Consultation, Renal Replacement Therapy, Survival Rate, Time Factors, Young Adult