Background: Infection is second to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and septicemia causes a majority of these infectious deaths. To identify patients at high risk and to characterize modifiable risk factors for septicemia, we examined the incidence, risk factors, and prognosis for septicemia in a large, representative group of U.S. dialysis patients.
Methods: We conducted a longitudinal cohort study of incident ESRD patients in the case-mix study of the U.S. Renal Data System with seven years of follow-up from hospitalization and death records. Poisson regression was used to examine independent risk factors for hospital-managed septicemia. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to assess the independent effect of septicemia on all-cause mortality and on death from septicemia. Separate analyses were performed for patients on peritoneal dialysis (PD) and hemodialysis (HD).
Results: Over seven years of follow-up, 11.7% of 4005 HD patients and 9.4% of 913 PD patients had at least one episode of septicemia. Older age and diabetes were independent risk factors for septicemia in all patients. Among HD patients, low serum albumin, temporary vascular access, and dialyzer reuse were also associated with increased risk. Among PD patients, white race and having no health insurance at dialysis initiation were also risk factors. Patients with septicemia had twice the risk of death from any cause and a fivefold to ninefold increased risk of death from septicemia.
Conclusions: Septicemia, which carries a marked increased risk of death, occurs frequently in patients on PD as well as HD. Early referral to a nephrologist, improving nutrition, and avoiding temporary vascular access may decrease the incidence of septicemia. Further study of how race, insurance status, and dialyzer reuse can contribute to the risk of septicemia among ESRD patients is indicated.