If you're a dialysis patient, you probably already know you're facing rough odds: Twenty percent of these patients die each year, most of them waiting for a kidney transplant.
But a new study found that where you get your dialysis mean the difference between life and death.
Researchers say patients at nonprofit dialysis clinics have a 13 percent lower risk of death than those who visit for-profit chains.
What's more, the biggest risk came from the biggest chains. Patients at the two largest, which control two-thirds of the dialysis market, had a 19 percent and 24 percent higher risk of death, respectively, than those at the biggest nonprofit chain.
The study in Health Services Research didn't quite spell out the reason for all that risk--but it did point to an obvious suspect: money.
The chains rake in big bucks, but they're not exactly putting those profits into better staff: The researchers found that nonprofit clinics had a higher ratio of nurses, while the for-profits relied more on patient care technicians.
Despite the fancy title, those "technicians" are largely unlicensed and earn about half the money of dialysis nurses, according to Salary.com.
That's great for profits... but terrible for patients.
If you're a kidney patient, there aren't a lot of options out there--but it's something to be aware of when choosing your care.
And here's something else to be aware of: pomegranate juice.
A new study showed that dialysis patients who drink a glass of the antioxidant-rich juice before each treatment have reductions in inflammation as well as less of the damage caused by free radicals.
That could help reduce the complications that come along with dialysis, and maybe even lower your death risk.
But there's one catch here: Pomegranate juice is rich in potassium, something many kidney patients need to limit--so if you want to give this a try, be sure to work with your doctor to monitor your levels.
Just make sure you talk to a real doctor... and not a technician!