Epidemiology, surveillance, and prevention of bloodstream infections in hemodialysis patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2010 Sep;56(3):566-77. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.02.352. Epub 2010 Jun 15.


Infections cause significant morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing hemodialysis. Bloodstream infections (BSIs) are particularly problematic, accounting for a substantial number of hospitalizations in these patients. Hospitalizations for BSI and other vascular access infections appear to have increased dramatically in hemodialysis patients since 1993. These infections frequently are related to central venous catheter (CVC) use for dialysis access. Regional initiatives that have shown successful decreases in catheter-related BSIs in hospitalized patients have generated interest in replicating this success in outpatient hemodialysis populations. Several interventions have been effective in preventing BSIs in the hemodialysis setting. Avoiding the use of CVCs in favor of access types with lower associated BSI risk is among the most important. When CVCs are used, adherence to evidence-based catheter insertion and maintenance practices can positively influence BSI rates. In addition, facility-level surveillance to detect BSIs and stimulate examination of vascular access use and care practices is essential to a comprehensive approach to prevention. This article describes the current epidemiology of BSIs in hemodialysis patients and effective prevention strategies to decrease the incidence of these devastating infections.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / epidemiology*
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / epidemiology*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance
  • Renal Dialysis*