Background: In France, 48% of home-based peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients require assistance to perform their exchange and manage their treatment. A total of 7% are aided by their family, and 41% by a private nurse. Of all the continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) patients, 61.7%, and among automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) patients 23%, are assisted at home for their bag exchanges and connections. Assisted APD patients (AAPD) are more comorbid and elderly so that a home helper is not always available: this explains why most helpers at home are private visiting nurses paid by the National Social Security. In addition to the home helper (nurse or family), 58% of centres make regular additional home visits to check the respect of procedures previously taught during the initial training of the nurse or the family helper. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the type of home assistance received by dependent patients had an influence on peritonitis rates, and if home visits done by nurses of training centres may improve results.
Methods: Peritonitis rates and the probability of being peritonitis free were analysed for 1624 new APD patients recorded in the French PD Registry (RDPLF) between 2000 and 2004, and followed-up until early 2005.
Results: Nurse-assisted APD patients had a peritonitis rate of one episode every 36 months, and family-assisted patients one episode every 45 months; using Poisson analysis this trend was not significant (P=0.11). However, the probability of being peritonitis free was significantly higher for family-assisted (69.8% at 2 year) compared with home nurse-aided persons (54.4%) after adjustment for age, diabetes and the Charlson comorbidity index. This difference disappeared when nurses from the training centre regularly visited PD patients at their home in the presence of their helper, whichever type of assistance they received. In addition, when the nurses from the training centres visited private nurse-assisted patients, the probability of being peritonitis free was significantly improved in comparison with those persons who did not receive home visits, from 33.9% to 50.8% at 3 years (P=0.028).
Conclusions: APD patients assisted at home by a private nurse have a higher risk of developing peritonitis than family-assisted patients, unless additional regular home visits are organized by the original training centre. Therefore, we recommend that home visits be regularly made for dependent PD patients to optimize the quality of care provided by the helper.