Background: Hemodialysis patients have frequent infections, especially of the vascular access site, and often harbor antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. Therefore a voluntary national system was created to monitor and prevent infections in these patients.
Methods: From October 1999 to May 2001, participating centers recorded the number of chronic hemodialysis outpatients that were treated (denominator). Several outcome events, including infections of the vascular access site, were monitored. Data were reported on paper forms or via an Internet-based data entry and analysis system.
Results: Among 109 participating centers, the vascular access infection rate per 100 patient-months was 3.2 overall and varied markedly by type of vascular access: 0.56 for native arteriovenous fistulas, 1.36 for synthetic arteriovenous grafts, 8.42 for cuffed catheters, and 11.98 for noncuffed catheters. Among 76 dialysis centers reporting at least 200 patient-months of data, 11 had a significantly low and 14 a significantly high rate of vascular access infection.
Conclusion: Initial results from the first national project to monitor infections in patients undergoing hemodialysis indicate that vascular access infections were common and that risk varied substantially among different vascular access types and different dialysis centers. These results can be used for quality improvement at individual centers and to help evaluate the efficacy of specific infection control measures.