Many of the 12 million U.S. residents who have early renal disease (the first stage of kidney disease) may go on to develop kidney failure. Unfortunately, patients who develop kidney failure have a poor chance of survival compared to people of the same age without renal disease.

The Early Renal Insufficiency (ERI) Program, run by the University of Maryland Medical Center's nephrologists, assists primary care doctors caring for those with the earliest stages of renal disease. The primary goal of the ERI program is to slow the progression of renal disease.

The reason early renal disease patients' health outcomes are poor is often due to complications of kidney disease that may go unrecognized. These include:

  • Anemia
  • Heart disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Bone disease

These may develop long before the onset of renal failure. Growing evidence demonstrates that loss of kidney function can be slowed with appropriate therapy, and monitoring of kidney function and possible complications.

UMMC Early Kidney Disease Services

In the University of Maryland ERI Program, patients with early renal disease are:

  • Assessed for their risk for development of kidney failure
  • Examined for their degree of kidney function loss
  • Educated about the causes of kidney disease and modifications they can make to keep their kidneys functioning for as long as possible.
  • Evaluated for the extent of associated complications of kidney disease
  • Treated with therapies, such as erythropoietic agents for anemia, or vitamin D and medicines that lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Followed over time for their disease progression
  • Prepared in a timely fashion for either kidney transplant or dialysis if kidney failure is likely

After the initial evaluation, the ERI program's staff will maintain contact with you, assist in your management and schedule follow-up visits as needed.

Who Should See an Early Kidney Disease Specialist?

You should be considered for evaluation in the Early Renal Insufficiency Program if you:

  • Have modestly elevated levels of creatinine, a chemical used to measure kidney function
  • Have a low glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is a test used to determine kidney function
  • Have diabetes with small or large amounts of protein in your urine
  • Have high blood pressure with low-grade levels of protein in your urine
  • View yourself at a high risk for development of renal disease