Background: This study investigates provider practices regarding recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) dose when patient hemoglobin levels exceeded National Kidney Foundation-Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative target levels and reached 13 g/dL or greater (>or=130 g/L).
Methods: The study population (N = 167,796) was hemodialysis patients prevalent on January 1, 2003, who were on renal replacement therapy at least 90 days with Medicare as primary payer and rHuEPO claims in 2 or more consecutive months. Patient characteristics were obtained from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medical Evidence Report, and comorbid conditions were determined from Medicare claims. Providers and rHuEPO claims were linked by using CMS-assigned provider numbers and the CMS Annual End-Stage Renal Disease Facility Survey. Between-provider differences in patient characteristics were examined by using chi-square test, and provider effect on appropriate response, by using logistic regression.
Results: DaVita's percentage of monthly claims for patients with hemoglobin levels of 13 g/dL or greater (>or=130 g/L; 16.7%) and mean monthly rHuEPO dose (54,299 units) were highest. Dialysis Clinic Inc's percentage of such claims (2.0%) and mean monthly dose (38,687 units) were lowest. Dialysis Clinic Inc, Fresenius, and Renal Care Group had the highest percentage of recommended dose adjustments (mean, 70% of units); hospital-based units had the lowest (59%). By adjusted odds ratio, adjustments were 20% more likely for Dialysis Clinic Inc, Fresenius, and Renal Care Group compared with DaVita, National Nephrology Associates, hospital-based units, and independents (17% to 28% less likely).
Conclusion: rHuEPO dose reduction practices are dependent on specific dialysis providers and whether units are hospital based or independent.