Background: Because initiation of dialysis therapy often occurs in the setting of acute illness and may signal worsening health and functional decline, we examined whether rates of serious fall injuries among older hemodialysis patients differ before and after dialysis therapy initiation.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study of claims data from the 2 years spanning dialysis therapy initiation among patients initiating dialysis therapy in 2010 to 2012.
Setting & participants: Claims from 81,653 Medicare end-stage renal disease beneficiaries aged 67 to 100 years.
Predictor: Post- versus pre-dialysis therapy initiation periods, defined as on or after versus before dialysis therapy initiation.
Outcomes: Serious fall injuries were defined using diagnostic codes for falls in combination with fractures, brain injuries, or joint dislocation. Incidence rate ratios (overall and stratified) for post- versus pre-dialysis therapy initiation periods were estimated using generalized estimating equation models with a negative binomial link.
Results: Overall, 12,757 serious fall injuries occurred in the pre- and post-dialysis therapy initiation periods. Annual rates of serious fall injuries were 64.4 (95% CI, 62.7-66.2) and 107.8 (95% CI, 105.4-110.3) per 1,000 patient-years, respectively, in the pre- and post-dialysis therapy initiation periods (incidence rate ratio, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.56-1.67). Relative rates of serious fall injuries in the post- vs pre-dialysis initiation periods were of greater magnitude among patients who were younger (<75 years), had pre-end-stage renal disease nephrology care, had albumin levels > 3g/dL, were able to walk and transfer, did not need assistance with activities of daily living, and were not institutionalized compared with relative rates among their counterparts.
Limitations: Potential misclassification due to the use of claims data and survival bias among those initiating hemodialysis therapy.
Conclusions: Among older Medicare beneficiaries receiving hemodialysis, serious fall injuries are common, the post-dialysis initiation period is a high-risk time for falls, and dialysis therapy initiation may be an important time to screen for fall risk factors and implement multifactorial fall prevention strategies.
Keywords: Falls; US Renal Data System (USRDS); dialysis initiation; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); fall prevention; fall risk; hemodialysis; incident ESRD; injury; modifiable risk factor; renal replacement therapy (RRT); serious fall injuries.
Copyright © 2017 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.