In 2016 and 2017, there were earthquakes greater than 5.0 in magnitude on the Korean Peninsula, which has previously been considered an earthquake-free zone. Patients with chronic kidney disease are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes, as the term “renal disaster” suggests. In the event of a major earthquake, patients on hemodialysis face the risk of losing maintenance dialysis due to infrastructure disruption. In this review, we share the experience of an earthquake in Pohang that posed a serious risk to patients on hemodialysis. We review the disaster response system in Japan and propose a disaster preparedness plan with respect to hemodialysis. Korean nephrologists and staff in dialysis facilities should be trained in emergency response to mitigate risk from natural disasters. Dialysis staff should be familiar with the action plan for natural disaster events that disrupt hemodialysis, such as outages and water treatment system failures caused by earthquakes. Patients on hemodialysis also need to be educated about disaster preparedness. In the event of a disaster situation that results in dialysis failure, patients need to know what to do. At the local and national government level, long-term preparations should be made to handle renal disaster and patient safety logistics. Moreover, Korean nephrologists should also be prepared to manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes in disaster situations. Further evaluation and management of social and national disaster preparedness of hemodialysis units to earthquakes in Korea are needed.
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