COVID-19 Among US Dialysis Patients: Risk Factors and Outcomes From a National Dialysis Provider

Am J Kidney Dis. 2021 May;77(5):748-756.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2021.01.003. Epub 2021 Jan 17.


Rationale & objective: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, patients receiving maintenance dialysis are a highly vulnerable population due to their comorbidities and circumstances that limit physical distancing during treatment. This study sought to characterize the risk factors for and outcomes following COVID-19 in this population.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting & participants: Maintenance dialysis patients in clinics of a midsize national dialysis provider that had at least 1 patient who tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from February to June 2020.

Predictors: Demographics, dialysis characteristics, residence in a congregated setting, comorbid conditions, measurements of frailty, and use of selected medications.

Outcomes: COVID-19, defined as having a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result, and all-cause mortality among those with COVID-19.

Analytical approach: Logistic regression analyses conducted to identify clinical characteristics associated with COVID-19 and risk factors associated with mortality among patients following COVID-19.

Results: 438 of 7948 (5.5%) maintenance dialysis patients developed COVID-19. Male sex, Black race, in-center dialysis (vs home dialysis), treatment at an urban clinic, residence in a congregate setting, and greater comorbidity were associated with contracting COVID-19. Odds of COVID-19 were 17-fold higher for those residing in a congregated setting (odds ratio [OR], 17.10 [95% CI, 13.51-21.54]). Of the 438 maintenance dialysis patients with COVID-19, 109 (24.9%) died. Older age, heart disease, and markers of frailty were associated with mortality.

Limitations: No distinction was detected between symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positivity, with asymptomatic screening limited by testing capacity during this initial COVID-19 surge period.

Conclusions: COVID-19 is common among patients receiving maintenance dialysis, particularly those residing in congregate settings. Among maintenance dialysis patients with COVID-19, mortality is high, exceeding 20%.

Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); death; dialysis; dialysis clinic; end-stage kidney disease (ESKD); end-stage renal disease (ESRD); epidemiology; mortality; nursing home; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / mortality
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Frailty* / diagnosis
  • Frailty* / epidemiology
  • Frailty* / etiology
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic* / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data
  • Renal Dialysis* / methods
  • Renal Dialysis* / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • United States / epidemiology