Adverse technical events in home hemodialysis

Am J Kidney Dis. 2015 Jan;65(1):116-21. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2014.08.013. Epub 2014 Oct 16.


Background: There is a growing interest in home hemodialysis because of its clinical benefits. However, given that patients are responsible for performing a complex medical procedure at home, adverse-event reporting is important to ensure patient safety. The purpose of this study was to describe adverse technical events in a large cohort of home hemodialysis patients.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting & participants: All consecutive patients undergoing home hemodialysis at a large tertiary-care center from 1999 through 2011 (last follow-up, July 2012).

Outcomes: Overall rate of adverse technical events and number/rate of severe adverse events (defined as those requiring intervention).

Results: The cohort consisted of 202 patients with total follow-up of 757 patient-years. The cohort underwent a median of 5 dialysis treatments per week and 8 hours per session. 22 first adverse events and 7 recurrent events were identified. Adverse event rates were 0.049 per arteriovenous fistula access-year, 0.015 per arteriovenous graft access-year, and 0.022 per dialysis catheter access-year. Event rates per 1,000 dialysis treatments were 0.208, 0.068, and 0.087 for arteriovenous fistula, arteriovenous graft, and dialysis catheter access, respectively. Most adverse events were related to needle dislodgement (n=18) or air embolism (n=6). 8 adverse events resulted in emergency department visits and 5 required hospital admission. The rate of severe adverse events was 0.009 per patient-year of home hemodialysis and 0.038 per 1,000 dialysis treatments. Interventions included 3 blood transfusions, 2 catheter changes, 1 use of intravenous fluids, and 1 need for urgent dialysis. Attempts were made to retrain or review the technique in all patients with a first adverse event.

Limitations: Events that were not severe may have been under-reported by patients.

Conclusions: Serious adverse technical events in home hemodialysis are relatively rare. Strategies to further prevent these events may include patient retraining and periodic vascular access technique audit.

Keywords: Adverse events; adverse technical events; air embolism; arteriovenous fistula; arteriovenous graft; dialysis catheter; home hemodialysis; needle dislodgement; patient training; quality assurance; safety; technical events.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical / adverse effects*
  • Canada
  • Cohort Studies
  • Embolism, Air / etiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hemodialysis, Home* / adverse effects
  • Hemodialysis, Home* / methods
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Prosthesis Failure / etiology*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Care* / adverse effects
  • Self Care* / methods
  • Severity of Illness Index