Background: Patients receiving long-term hemodialysis have a yearly mortality rate of 15% to 20%.
Objective: To determine whether attaining clinical performance measures for hemodialysis care is associated with favorable 12-month mortality and hospitalization rates.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Outpatient hemodialysis centers in the United States.
Patients: 15 287 patients who were selected from a 5% random sample of patients receiving long-term hemodialysis.
Measurements: The authors used data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services End-Stage Renal Disease Clinical Performance Measures Project from 1999 and 2000. The clinical performance measure targets were hemoglobin value of 110 g/L or greater; serum albumin value of 40 g/L or greater or 37 g/L or greater (bromcresol green and bromcresol purple laboratory methods, respectively); use of a fistula for vascular access; and measured single-pool Kt/V urea value of 1.2 or greater. The outcome measures were death or hospitalization during 1-year follow-up.
Results: 8364 patients (54.7%) were hospitalized and 3062 (20.0%) died during the 12-month follow-up period. Six percent of patients did not meet any clinical measure targets, 24% met 1 target, 39% met 2 targets, 24% met 3 targets, and 7% met all 4 targets. The unadjusted 12-month hospitalization and mortality rates for these 5 groups were 60%, 60%, 56%, 49%, and 43% (P < 0.001) and 29%, 25%, 21%, 14%, and 7% (P < 0.001), respectively. The risk for death increased for each additional guideline indicator that was not met: Adjusted hazard ratios were 4.6 (95% CI, 3.3 to 6.4), 3.5 (CI, 2.6 to 4.7), 2.6 (CI, 1.9 to 3.5), and 1.9 (CI, 1.4 to 2.6) for 0, 1, 2, or 3 targets met, respectively, compared with meeting 4 targets (referent). Similarly, the risk for hospitalization increased for each additional guideline indicator that was not met: Adjusted hazard ratios were 1.6 (CI, 1.4 to 1.9), 1.5 (CI, 1.3 to 1.7), 1.3 (CI, 1.1 to 1.5), and 1.1 (CI, 0.98 to 1.3), respectively.
Limitations: It was not possible to determine the roles of severity of illness, other patient factors, or suboptimal care in failure to meet performance measures.
Conclusions: In patients receiving long-term hemodialysis, meeting multiple clinical measure targets is associated with a decrease in hospitalization and mortality rates.