Individualized anemia management in a dialysis facility - long-term utility as a single-center quality improvement experience

Clin Nephrol. 2018 Oct;90(4):276-285. doi: 10.5414/CN109499.


Background: Standard protocol-based approaches to erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA) dosing in anemia management of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) fail to address the inter-individual variability in patient's response to ESA. We conducted a single-center quality improvement project to investigate the long-term performance of a computer-designed dosing system.

Materials and methods: The study was a retrospective case-control study with long-term follow-up. All hemodialysis patients who received treatment at University Kidney Center (Louisville, KY, USA) between September 1, 2009, and March 31, 2017, were included. We implemented an individualized ESA dosing algorithm into an electronic health records database software to provide patient-specific ESA dose recommendations to anemia managers at monthly intervals. The primary outcome was the percentage of hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations between 10 and 12 g/dL during the case-control study and 9 and 11 g/dL during follow-up. Secondary outcomes were intra- and inter-individual Hb variability. For the case-control study, we compared outcomes over 12 months before and after implementation of the algorithm. Subjects served as their own controls. We used the last Hb concentration of the month and ESA dose per week. Long-term follow-up examined trends in proportion within the target range, Hb, and ESA dose.

Results: Individualized ESA dosing in 56 subjects was associated with a moderate (6.6%) increase of mean Hb maintenance within target over the 12-month observation period (62.7% before vs. 69.3% after, p = 0.063). Intra-individual mean Hb variability decreased (1.1 g/dL before vs. 0.8 g/dL after, p < 0.001), so did inter-individual mean Hb variability (1.2 g/dL before vs. 1.0 g/dL after, p = 0.010). Long-term follow-up in 233 subjects for 42 months demonstrated stability of the achieved Hb despite an increasing ESA resistance in the patient population.

Conclusion: Implementation of the individualized ESA dosing algorithm facilitates improvement in Hb maintenance within target, decreases Hb variability and reduces the dose of ESA required to achieve Hb target. .

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Computer-Assisted*
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage*
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Improvement
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Software
  • Time Factors


  • Hematinics
  • Hemoglobins