Background: After recombinant human erythropoietin was introduced into routine nephrologic practice, specific clinical guidelines were developed to optimize the quality of anemia management for patients with chronic kidney disease.
Methods: The Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS), an international investigation providing patient- and facility-level data on hemodialysis practice, was developed to provide information on various aspects of current practices in hemodialysis management, including treatment of renal anemia.
Results: Hemoglobin concentration is strongly associated with both morbidity and mortality in hemodialysis patients. Although some improvements can be documented in anemia management practices in the years after the publication of international guidelines, wide variations in anemia management are still observed among countries.
Conclusion: Many efforts are still needed to allow a greater proportion of patients to reach the recommended hemoglobin concentrations. Significantly improved outcomes may therefore be expected by a more widespread reaching of the recommended hemoglobin levels. The results of the DOPPS point to the difficulties in implementing clinical guidelines in the everyday management of individual patients. In specific circumstances, a well-designed observational study may offer credible information and serve as a basic instrument for monitoring the implementation of clinical guidelines in typical clinical practice.