Misdiagnosis of kidney disease can result in a couple of outcomes. Either the doctor misses the problem and diagnoses the patient with something else, delaying treatment, or the doctor says the patient has kidney disease when he or she does not.
The latter situation is alarmingly common in older adults. Healthcare professionals often misdiagnose seniors with kidney disease when their symptoms are just a part of natural aging.
As science progresses, new ideas come to the forefront. This situation is happening with kidney disease in the older population. Research now shows that kidney function decline is a natural part of aging. It is not evidence that the kidneys are failing or a sign of anything abnormal.
When doctors treat older people for kidney disease when there is not anything actually wrong, it can be harmful. It causes needless stress and increases healthcare costs. If a doctor starts the patient on medication, that also could lead to issues, such as side effects that can degrade the quality of life.
The bottom line
Research showed that those over the age of 65 usually have kidneys that slow down, but if there are no other signs of a problem, then they are usually fine. There is no need for further treatment. The suggestion is to change current guidelines that only use glomerular filtration rates as a benchmark for diagnosis when treating seniors.
Misdiagnosing a patient with kidney disease when he or she has no problem could be dangerous. At best, it is an inconvenience that patients should not have to worry about.