Since 1989, significant efforts have focused on improving the care of dialysis patients in the United States. Numerous organizations have developed clinical practice guidelines; however, few guidelines have received the broad support given to the National Kidney Foundation-Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative (DOQI). These guidelines, independently developed from an extensive review of the literature, include sections on dialysis adequacy, anemia treatment, and vascular access. To assess the impact of these guidelines on clinical practice, we evaluated data on hematocrits, recombinant human erythropoietin dosing, hemodialysis adequacy, and simple fistula and dialysis catheter utilization using Medicare dialysis provider claims and Medicare Part B physician services. Hematocrits have increased steadily, with the exception of the period when the Hematocrit Measurement Audit was in effect. After cancellation of the policy, hematocrits increased to the midpoint of the DOQI target range (34.4%). Although the level of dialysis therapy has stabilized, with the average urea reduction rate of 68% to 69.9% in 1997 to 1999 being slightly greater than the DOQI target of 65% or greater, geographic variability is apparent. Simple fistula placement rates increased by 45% during the pre-DOQI and post-DOQI period from 1994 to 1999. The use of temporary catheters decreased, whereas placement of permanent catheters has increased, which may reflect recommended practice guidelines. Although it appears that clinical practice guidelines have improved the clinical care of dialysis patients, considerable regional variations in care across the country should be given significant attention.
- Arteriovenous fistulae
- Clinical practice guidelines
- Dialysis adequacy
- End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
- Hemodialysis (HD)
- National kidney foundation-dialysis outcomes quality initiative (NKF-DOQI) guidelines