Kidney Disease & Diabetes - (Is There A Relationship?)

It’s been known for a long time that diabetes can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). But is the reverse also true? What have researchers learned about chronic kidney disease increasing the risk of diabetes?

If you struggle with either diabetes or CKD, keep reading. You should know what the researchers are discovering, and you should also know what your rights are as a diabetes or chronic kidney disease patient.

“Diabetes is often a sign of kidney disease and also a cause of kidney disease,” according to medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban, and the evidence confirms this.

New epidemiological research conducted in St. Louis at the Washington University School of Medicine indicates strongly that chronic kidney disease raises the risk for diabetes.

The Washington University researchers have identified urea – nitrogen produced when digestion breaks down protein – as the probable link between diabetes and CKD.

The research findings were published in December 2017 by Kidney International, the journal of the International Society of Nephrology.


Healthy kidneys efficiently remove urea and other waste products from the blood, but urea can accumulate when someone’s kidney function declines, leading to impaired insulin secretion.

A high urea level, however, is a treatable condition. For most chronic kidney disease patients, a low-protein diet enhances chronic kidney disease treatment and will help to prevent diabetes.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a Washington University assistant professor of medicine, led the team of researchers. He said, “We have known for a long time that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, but now we have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea, also raises the risk of diabetes.”

The research team evaluated the medical records of 1.3 million adults in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ databases for five years to study the possible links between diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

About nine percent of the patients had high levels of urea, indicating poor kidney health.


Dr. Al-Aly says that percentage “is also reflective of the general population.” Researchers found that patients with higher levels of urea had a higher risk of diabetes – by about 23 percent.

In each of the five years under study, the patients with higher urea levels were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than patients with lower urea levels.

Dr. Al-Aly says this particular study of chronic kidney disease and diabetes was based on laboratory research that had been previously conducted at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre.

The results of that research were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in August 2016.

The Montreal research team induced kidney failure in mice; the mice reacted with elevated urea levels and impaired insulin secretion.

“Our results were almost an exact replica of the mouse study,” Dr. Al-Aly said. “The results showed a clear relationship between urea levels and risk of diabetes.”


Chronic kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States; diabetes is the seventh. The American Kidney Fund estimates that about 31 million people in the United States – or about ten percent of the adult population – have chronic kidney disease.

Approximately half of those patients also have diabetes. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that 30.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.

With so many people suffering from diabetes and chronic kidney disease, there are plenty of opportunities for medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice is any negligence by a healthcare professional that results in the deterioration of a patient’s medical condition, an additional injury to the patient, or the patient’s wrongful death.

Every year in the United States, about twelve million adults with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and other serious, progressive medical conditions are misdiagnosed in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices.

Misdiagnosing a severe medical condition and prescribing the wrong medication or treatment on the basis of that misdiagnosis can severely harm someone who is already suffering. Such misdiagnosis is medical malpractice.


Simple blood tests can detect kidney disease, diabetes, and a variety of other medical conditions, but the symptoms of CKD and diabetes may be slight, particularly in their early stages. Nevertheless, a failure to identify those symptoms can mean that vital treatment is delayed or denied.

However, if diagnosed early and accurately, and if treated properly, kidney disease and diabetes can usually be managed, and most patients can maintain a relatively normal lifestyle.

Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, and persons over the age of 60 are the high-risk groups for chronic kidney disease.

High cholesterol, obesity, physical injuries, and other illnesses can also contribute to the risk. But the most dangerous thing that a chronic kidney disease patient might encounter is medical malpractice.

The toughest challenge that chronic kidney disease presents is its stealthy, insidious nature. It is almost always a subtle disease that progresses incrementally over a period of years, and many people don’t even realize that they have CKD in its early stages.

If you are over 60, or if you belong to one of the high-risk groups, yearly screening for chronic kidney disease is imperative, because it can strike anyone.


Whenever a healthcare provider fails to order the appropriate tests or fails to follow up after an irregular test result, that failure constitutes medical malpractice.

With the help of reliable medical experts, a medical malpractice attorney can determine if a particular misdiagnosis constitutes malpractice.

Where chronic kidney disease and diabetes are concerned, medical malpractice is unacceptable, and in many cases, it’s dangerous.

If your health has deteriorated because of an inaccurate diabetes or chronic kidney disease diagnosis, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If malpractice took place, you are entitled by law to full compensation for your pain, suffering, and additional medical expenses, but to obtain that compensation, you’ll have to prove that malpractice caused your health to decline, so you’ll need an attorney’s help.

Nothing is more important than your health. If you are a chronic kidney disease patient, a diabetes patient, or both, and you are also a victim of medical malpractice, the law is on your side.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can discuss your rights and options, which may include a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you are a medical malpractice victim, help is a phone call away.

By: Jed Kurzban

Medical malpractice attorney Jed Kurzban graduated from the University of Alabama in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Mr. Kurzban is happily married and the father of two.