Race-Based Kidney Tests Should End: Medical Groups
The current tests can lead to delayed treatment for Black patients with kidney disease, researchers say
After decades of widespread use, a pair of basic kidney function tests will likely be retired because they can delay lifesaving care for Black patients.
Two prominent groups that set standards in kidney medicine said Tuesday that doctors shouldn’t use the race-based formulas, which give different results to Black and non-Black patients.
These differences can make a Black person’s kidneys look healthier than they really are, critics say, delaying their eligibility for specialty care or a kidney transplant.
The announcement comes after years of controversy around the routine blood test, which estimates a kidney’s glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, and gives doctors a rough sense of how well a patient’s kidneys are working.
Critics say that race adjustment in most GFR tests makes false assumptions about a person’s kidneys based on their skin color or the racial group with which they identify. Experts say that race doesn’t belong in the equation because it isn’t a biological category the way that sex or age is.
A number of doctors had resisted changing the tests, arguing that more studies were needed.