Background: Concern lingers that dialysis therapy at for-profit (versus not-for-profit) hemodialysis facilities in the United States may be associated with higher mortality, even though 4 of every 5 contemporary dialysis patients receive therapy in such a setting.
Methods: Our primary objective was to compare the mortality hazards of patients initiating hemodialysis at for-profit and not-for-profit centers in the United States between 1998 and 2003. For-profit status of dialysis facilities was determined after subjects received 6 months of dialysis therapy, and mean follow-up was 1.7 years.
Results: Of the study population (N = 205,076), 79.9% were dialyzed in for-profit facilities after 6 months of dialysis therapy. Dialysis at for-profit facilities was associated with higher urea reduction ratios, hemoglobin levels (including levels above 12 and 13 g/dL [120 and 130 g/L]), epoetin doses, and use of intravenous iron, and less use of blood transfusions and lower proportions of patients on the transplant waiting-list (P < 0.05). Patients dialyzed at for-profit and at not-for-profit facilities had similar mortality risks (adjusted hazards ratio 1.02, 95% CI 0.99-1.06, P = 0.143).
Conclusion: While hemodialysis treatment at for-profit and not-for-profit dialysis facilities is associated with different patterns of clinical benchmark achievement, mortality rates are similar.