Objective: To evaluate the impact of dialyzer reuse on the survival of US hemodialysis patients.
Study design and participants: Nonconcurrent cohort study of 27938 patients beginning hemodialysis in the United States in 1986 and 1987.
Main outcome measure: Patient survival.
Results: Dialysis in freestanding facilities reprocessing dialyzers with the combination of peracetic and acetic acids was associated with greater mortality than treatment in facilities not reprocessing dialyzers (rate ratio [RR],1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.18; P=.02) In contrast, there was no significant difference between survival in freestanding facilities reprocessing dialyzers with either formaldehyde (RR,1.03, 95% CI, 0.96-1.10; P=.45) or glutaraldehyde (RR, 1.13, 95% CI, 0.95-1.35, P=.18) and survival in freestanding facilities not reprocessing dialyzers. Among freestanding facilities reprocessing dialyzers, use of peracetic/acetic acid was associated with a higher rate of death than use of formaldehyde (RR = 1.08, 95% CI, 1.01-1.14; P=.02). There was no statistical difference between survival in hospital-based facilities reprocessing dialyzers with either peracetic/acetic acid (RR=0.95, 95% CI, 0.85-1.06; P=.40), formaldehyde (RR=1.06, 95% CI, 0.98-1.15; P=.12), or glutaraldehyde (RR=1.09, 95% CI, 0.71-1.67; P=.70) and survival in hospital-based facilities not reprocessing dialyzers. In addition, choice of sterilant was not associated with a statistically significant difference in survival among hospital-based facilities reprocessing dialyzers.
Conclusions: Dialysis in freestanding facilities reprocessing dialyzers with peracetic/acetic acid may be associated with worse survival than dialysis in free-standing facilities not reprocessing dialyzers or in those reprocessing with formaldehyde. We were unable to determine whether these relationships arose from greater comorbidity among patients treated in facilities using peracetic/acetic acid, poor quality of dialysis procedures in these facilities, or direct toxicity of peracetic/acetic acid. These findings raise important concerns about potentially avoidable mortality among US hemodialysis patients treated in dialysis facilities reprocessing hemodialyzers.