Background — Little is known about the health and health-care patterns of patients with diabetes according to their estimated glomerular filtration rate, especially within a publicly funded health-care system.
Methods — Using linked health-care databases in Ontario, Canada, we performed a population-based study of adults 50 years of age and older (mean age, 68 years) with prevalent diabetes on January 1, 2014. We categorized patients according to their level of kidney function (estimated glomerular filtration rate ≥ 90, 60 to 89, 30 to 59, 15 to 29, or <15 mL/min/1.73m2, or the receipt of ongoing maintenance dialysis). We then followed patients for 2 years to determine: 1) their level of contact with health-care providers (i.e. visits to family doctor, specialists); 2) their use and repeated use of acute medical services (i.e. hospitalizations and emergency department encounters; 3) diabetes-related monitoring and screening (i.e. glycated hemoglobin and cholesterol tests, vision screening); 4) glycemic and lipid control; and 5) diabetes-related outcomes.
Results — There were 569,384 patients in our study. Most had an estimated glomerular filtration rates between 60 and 89 mL/min/1.73m2. At baseline, patients with lower kidney function had longer durations of diabetes and more comorbidities. Over 2 years of follow up, they had higher burdens of medical care, excessive diabetes monitoring and were underscreened for diabetes-related complications. Although metabolic control was reasonable across groups, patients with low kidney function had more hospital encounters and more diabetes-related complications.
Conclusions — Patients with diabetes and low kidney function are a vulnerable population that faces health system challenges and care gaps. Suggestions for policy and practice are discussed