Thursday, July 29, 2021

Nephrology and US News and World Report Rankings


Traditionally, all fields in medicine had some sort of ranking in US News and World Report. July 2021, Nephrology was removed and was changed to rankings based on " Renal Failure".  What does that even mean?

Traditionally, what consists the score is patient experience, structure, mortality and length of stay and nephrology used to include reputation related to both med and surgical procedures. We don't know what the "kidney failure" consists of when the new rankings were assigned. 

Even the old way of ranking was flawed- as many of us know that when you include surgical procedures- you are not involving other fields like vascular surgery, transplant surgery and perhaps Urology. That is " Kidney care" but not " Nephrology". And " Kidney failure" alone is not nephrology either.

ASN President and ASN timely released a rebuttal and I think this needs to be read by all. This is extremely important.

The " Kidney Failure" is not a good way to advertise nephrology to patients as most patients see US News World report.  Nephrology is a field that includes quality care in Prevention, Treatment and then Management of AKI. In addition, other hospital acquired disorders such as acid base, hyponatremia and so forth are part of Nephrology. Complex GN cases are not easy to define treatment and are also part of nephrology. Social components are also critical when we discharged ESKD patients and obtaining an outpatient dialysis spot in certain parts of the country is not easy for patients. Lot of key stakeholders are involved in this and length of stay can get affected. 

As pointed out in the rebuttal by ASN, during the initial surge of COVID19 in 2020, many states experienced AKI and dialysis shortages-- how did we all manage this as a community- we can't prevent the AKI in some cases- but how did we manage it.. that is extremely important. As a field in medicine, we really excelled and did our best!

In general, rankings are not good in certain fields that are more as a result of other fields like Nephrology. What I mean is - our AKI cases in general are NOT caused by us- they are either drug induced, sepsis induced, ct surgery induced, contrast induced, etc... So how can the field of Nephrology be responsible for this or the respective program in that hospital. It really is a more complex and more large system issue that needs more collaboration and dedication from other fields in medicine to PREVENT AKI and associated complications. Intrinsic renal causes such as GNs or TMA are a rare entity in a large scheme of things.

In another editorial, the authors say that it is about time we stop ranking hospitals based on their reputation mainly but look at the crucial layers of data within the state. The author suggests that look at the areas in which a hospital performs , measure each of them and give a score set- simple- remove the reputation component and keep it fair.

Perhaps the ranking systems needs consultants to guide them from both academic and community nephrology to help create a rank list -if we still even want to do that. I say we bow out and just focus on providing good care!

Kudos to ASN for saying what is on our mind

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