“Because federal guidelines do not require doctors to be on site at for-profit dialysis clinics, DaVita patients often reported feeling rushed, with employees allegedly cutting corners for the sake of speed,” said John Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” on a recent episode.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s wrong with for-profit dialysis clinics in the United States according to our favorite late night comedian, who is not just as joke-teller, but he’s also a truth-teller.
“When I was working at DaVita, the priorities for transitioning patients was to get them on dialysis and get the next patient on as soon as possible,” Megallan Handford, a former DaVita told Oliver. “You would have sometimes 15, maybe 25 minutes to get that next patient on the machine, so you were not properly disinfecting.”
John Oliver explained dialysis as a process in which a person is hooked up to a machine that removes blood out of the body, cleans it, then returns it to circulation. “Think of it as a Brita pitcher for your blood,” he said.
And he urged people to learn about the for-profit dialysis industry, however boring it may seem, because an increasing number of people in the United States suffer from kidney disease and rely on the “exhausting process” of dialysis to stay alive.
The Washington Post article stated kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oliver also cited a 2010 ProPublica investigation that revealed the United States “continues to have one of the industrialized world’s highest mortality rates for dialysis care” despite spending more on it than other nations, by some accounts.
“So we’re spending the most to essentially get the least,” Oliver said. “We’re basically paying for a fully loaded Lamborghini and receiving a drunk donkey on roller skates.”
Oliver recounted the history of how the country’s for-profit dialysis industry came to be — the result, he said, of good intentions mixed with “bad incentives, poor oversight and profiteering.”
Toward the end of his segment, John Oliver emphasized that problems with the for-profit dialysis industry were not limited to DaVita.
He also called for better government oversight, as well as improved incentives for kidney transplants and health care “to keep out of dialysis in the first place.”
Oliver also praised those who were willing to donate one of their two kidneys while still alive. READ MORE
What does diabetes do to the kidneys?
With diabetes, the small blood vessels in the body are injured according to the National Kidney foundation. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly. Your body will retain more water and salt than it should, which can result in weight gain and ankle swelling. You may have protein in your urine. Also, waste materials will build up in your blood.
Diabetes also may cause damage to nerves in your body. This can cause difficulty in emptying your bladder. The pressure resulting from your full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys. Also, if urine remains in your bladder for a long time, you can develop an infection from the rapid growth of bacteria in urine that has a high sugar level.
LISTEN NOW: Diabetes Late Nite podcast inspired by A Tribe Called Quest. We’re focusing on ‘KIDNEYS and DIABETES’ with musical inspiration from A Tribe Called Quest. Phife Dawg, born Malik Taylor, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 1990. Experiencing constant thirst and bathroom visits, his grandmother, a nurse, tested him for diabetes after a performance in Connecticut. Initially, Phife admitted he did not take his diagnosis seriously, and maintained his same lifestyle.
“It’s really a sickness,” Taylor said in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport’s candid 2011 documentary on the group. “Like straight-up drugs. I’m just addicted to sugar.”
Phife’s initial resistance to treatment made it necessary for him to go on dialysis followed by a kidney transplant in 2008. This past March he died at age 45.
“When you learn you have diabetes, the first word you have to learn is acceptance,” he said during an interview with dLife TV hoping to encourage others to learn from his mistakes.
June’s Diabetes Late Nite podcast guests include MaryAnn Nicolay DTR, Dr. Braxton Cosby, Patricia Addie-Gentle RN, CDE, Poet Lorraine Brooks, Funny Man Mike, Arnon Krongrad, MD, Catherine Lawrence and Mama Rose Marie. We’re featuring songs from their first album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”, released in 1990, courtesy of SONY MUSIC.