TV Host Bashes Fast-Food Style Care for Dialysis Patients

Most late-night talk show hosts spend their time talking about political controversies, celebrity gossip, sports, and current events. But it’s not every day that a talk show host delves into a serious topic with anything more than a couple of jokes or snarky comments before moving on.

However, on a recent episode of the popular HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, this TV personality dedicated most of the show to exposing the truth about the current state of dialysis in the United States.

Even though he compared current dialysis clinic practices to the fast food industry with a bit of sarcastic humor, he wasn’t kidding about the challenges dialysis patients are forced to endure.

Today an estimated 500,000 people are on dialysis, and many more will need it when their kidneys go from a diseased state to failure. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When someone with kidney disease reaches stage 4 or stage five, dialysis or a kidney transplant is typically the last remaining treatment option.

But it shouldn’t be that way, says Oliver. Not in the United States where billions of dollars are spent on dialysis care, one of the only health conditions universally covered by the government for anyone who needs it.

Oliver pointed to dialysis treatment companies like DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care as profit-driven clinics more interested in generating revenue than taking care of patients. He even compared the typical patient experience who goes to a clinic for dialysis treatment to the streamlined make-it-as-fast-as-possible service at a fast food restaurant.

He pointed out common problems in dialysis clinics, such as not requiring a doctor to be present, cutting corners for disinfecting equipment to get the next patient hooked up to the machine faster, poor government oversight, and other issues.

Even after ranting about the state of dialysis treatment in the United States, Oliver did manage to sprinkle in some positive comments. He praised people who have given a kidney to help someone in need and encouraged people to sign up as an organ donor using the Twitter hashtag #WhenIDiePleaseTakeMyKidneys.

It’s not likely that a talk show host is going to change dialysis treatment practices overnight, but Oliver’s message has certainly made waves in the medical community for pointing out shortcomings in care.

If you’re currently receiving dialysis treatments or care for someone who is, making smart food choices to limit sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. Enjoy one of our Dialysis-Friendly meals and sit down to watch John Oliver serve up the truth about dialysis in the United States.