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Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 Jan;57(1):78-89. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.08.028. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

Achieving the goal of the Fistula First breakthrough initiative for prevalent maintenance hemodialysis patients.

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  • 1Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition, Midlothian, VA 23113, USA.



The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established a national goal of 66% arteriovenous fistula (AVF) use in prevalent hemodialysis (HD) patients for the current Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative. The feasibility of achieving the goal has been debated. We examined contemporary patterns of AVF use in prevalent patients to assess the potential for attaining the goal by dialysis facilities and their associated End-Stage Renal Disease Networks in the United States.


Observational study.


US dialysis facilities with a mean HD patient census of 10 or more during the 40-month study period, January 2007-April 2010.


Mean changes in facility-level AVF use and percentage of facilities achieving the 66% prevalent AVF goal within the United States and each network.


Mean prevalent AVF use within dialysis facilities increased from 45.3% to 55.5% (P < 0.001) in the United States, but varied substantially across regions. The percentage of facilities achieving the 66% AVF use goal increased from 6.4% to 19.0% (P < 0.001). During the 40 months, 35.9% of facilities achieved the CMS goal for at least 1 month. On average, these facilities sustained mean use ≥66% for 12.9 ± 11.7 (SD) months. Case-mix and other facility characteristics explained 20% of the variation in proportion of facility patients using an AVF in the last measured month, leaving substantial unexplained variability.


This analysis is limited by the absence of facility case-mix data over time, and the national scope of the initiative precludes use of a comparison group.


Achieving the CMS goal of 66% prevalent AVF use is feasible for individual dialysis facilities. There is a need to decrease regional variation before the CMS goal can be fully realized for US HD facilities.

Copyright © 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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