Background: The proliferation of multi-unit for-profit dialysis chains in the ESRD industry has raised concerns for patient quality of care including access to renal transplantation therapy (RTT). The effect of dialysis facility chain status on RTT is unknown.
Methods: Data from the United States Renal Data System were used to identify 4,465 dialysis facilities and 56,714 dialysis patients who started hemodialysis in 2006. Patients were followed from initiation of hemodialysis in 2006 to placement on the renal transplant waiting list or to December 31, 2009. The role of dialysis facility chain status (affiliation, size, and ownership) on placement on the renal transplant waiting list was evaluated by multi-level mixed-effect regression models that account for clustering within facilities.
Results: Patients from for-profit chain facilities, compared to nonprofit chain facilities, were 13% (95% CI 0.77-0.98) less likely to be waitlisted. In contrast, among nonchains, facility ownership did not influence likelihood of being waitlisted. There was also a marginally significant difference in waiting list placement by chain size: large chains compared with mid or small chains were 8% (95% CI 0.84-1.00) less likely to place patients on the waiting list. After adjustment for patient and facility characteristics, dialysis facility chain affiliation (chain-affiliated or not) was not found to be independently associated with the likelihood of placement on the transplant waitlist.
Conclusion: Dialysis chain affiliation expands previously observed ownership-related differences in placement on the waiting list. For-profit ownership of dialysis chain facilities appears to be a significant impediment to access to renal transplants.