Complications of hemodialysis accesses are a major cause of morbidity in chronic hemodialysis patients. Although several investigators have reported on the utilization of inpatient services for hemodialysis access complications, there is a paucity of data regarding the utilization of outpatient services and temporary accesses for these complications. In this retrospective study, we identified all access-related inpatient admissions and outpatient encounters and procedures performed in an incident cohort of hemodialysis patients. Eighty-eight patients were followed for an average of 487.4 +/- 316.9 days, for a total of 119.1 patient-years of risk. The mean age was 57.0 +/- 14.6 years, with 55% females and 65% blacks; 31% of patients had diabetes mellitus as the primary cause of end-stage renal disease. Patients were referred to our nephrology practice a median of 56 days prior to the placement of a hemodialysis access and a median of 76 days prior to the initiation of hemodialysis. At the initiation of hemodialysis, 48 native arteriovenous fistulas and 40 polytetrafluoroethylene grafts were placed. Only 28 patients (31.8%) had a permanent access placed at least 14 days before the start of hemodialysis, resulting in the placement of 93 temporary accesses during the first week of dialysis therapy. Because of access complications, 21 patients had failure of their primary access, requiring the placement of 33 additional permanent accesses, including six native arteriovenous fistulas, 23 polytetrafluoroethylene grafts, and four permacaths, or an average of 0.28 new accesses per patient-year of risk. During the study period, 45 patients (51%) had at least one access complication. To manage these access complications, 25 fistulograms (0.21 per patient-year of risk) were performed and 116 additional temporary accesses (0.97 per patient-year of risk) were placed, including 50 femoral (43.1%), 52 subclavian (44.8%), and 14 internal jugular (12.1%) catheters. A total of 2.43 inpatient days and 1.05 outpatient encounters per year of patient risk were directly attributed to admissions solely for access complications. There is significant utilization of outpatient services, temporary accesses, and fistulograms in the management of hemodialysis access complications. These services should be included whenever a review of hemodialysis access procedures or costs are undertaken.