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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2004 May;19(5):1245-51. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Dialyser reuse-associated mortality and hospitalization risk in incident Medicare haemodialysis patients, 1998-1999.

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Nephrology Analytical Services, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, 914 South 8th Street, Suite D-206, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA.



The reuse of haemodialysers has been practiced in the United States for >20 years. We investigated mortality and hospitalization risk according to various reuse practices, testing the hypothesis that outcomes are improved in patients treated with dialysers cleaned with bleach and sterilized with formaldehyde.


We studied 1998 and 1999 incident Medicare haemodialysis patients, with follow-up through December 31, 2000 (49 273 patients). Clinical conditions and dialysis therapy were characterized from Medicare claims data. Included were patients who could be linked to a dialysis provider. Demographic characteristics were obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medical Evidence Report. Mortality information was obtained from the CMS ESRD Death Notification; hospitalization information, from Medicare in-patient claims files. Data on reuse practices were obtained from the annual survey of haemodialysis units conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Cox regression analyses found no significant differences in mortality or first-hospitalization risk for patients in dialysis units not using bleach as a cleaning agent. Outcomes for patients treated in units using glutaraldehyde did not vary according to use of bleach. In the analysis of first-hospitalization risk, there was no difference according to various germicide/bleach combinations. Overall, there was no significant difference in relative risk of death or in hospitalization risk among the reuse groups (including the no-reuse group).


For the 1998-1999 period, reuse practices were not associated with a survival advantage or disadvantage. Our findings may reflect the National Kidney Foundation's 1997 introduction of clinical practice guidelines, the intent of which was to bring about increased consistency of care within the dialysis community in the United States.

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