More than 10,000 uninsured patients sought care at Texas emergency departments for lifesaving kidney dialysis in 2017, incurring more than $21.8 million in hospital costs, according to researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The study, which highlights a common problem in emergency departments across the country, was published today in JAMA Network Open. The kidneys filter blood by removing waste and excess fluid. Patients with kidneys that no longer function require dialysis, where they are hooked up to a machine that purifies their blood. Each dialysis treatment takes an average of four hours three times a week. For many uninsured patients, waiting until the need becomes life-threatening is the only option because regular treatment is not feasible. “This is a real problem facing these patients,” said Julianna West, a second-year student at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and lead author of the paper. “They have gone weeks without dialysis, and then they present in life-threatening crisis to the emergency department. This requires many hospital personnel and resources to treat their dire condition, and takes t...