Special Article: National Surveillance of Dialysis-Associated Diseases in the United States, 2002


Address correspondence to: Lyn Finelli, DrPH, MS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd. NE, Mailstop G-37, Atlanta, GA 30333, or e-mail: LFinelli@cdc.gov.


In December 2002, all U.S. chronic hemodialysis centers were surveyed regarding selected patient care practices and dialysis-associated diseases. The results were compared with similar surveys conducted in previous years. In 2002, 85% of hemodialysis centers were free-standing and 81% operated for profit; the proportion of centers operating for profit has increased each year since 1985. During 1995–2002, the percentage of patients who received dialysis through central catheters increased from 13% to 26%; this trend is worrisome, as infections and antimicrobial use are higher among patients receiving dialysis through catheters. However, during the same period, the percentage of patients receiving dialysis through fistulas increased from 22% to 33%. The percentage of centers reporting one or more patients infected or colonized with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) increased from 12% in 1995 to 30% in 2002. During 1997–2002, the percentage of patients vaccinated against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection increased from 47% to 56% and the percentage of staff vaccinated increased from 87% to 90%. In 2002, routine testing for antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) was performed on patients at 64% of centers; anti-HCV was found in 7.8% of patients. In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published Recommendations for Preventing Transmission of Infections among Chronic Hemodialysis Patients. Centers were surveyed regarding their awareness of the recommendations and about a variety of infection control practices. In general, the incidence of HBV and HCV was not substantially different for the infection control practices evaluated, including where staff obtain clean supplies for patient treatment, reuse of unused and unopened supplies, and practices for changing external transducer filters/protectors. However, in 2002, the incidence of HBV infection was higher among patients in centers where injectable medications were prepared on a medication cart or medication area located in the treatment area compared to a dedicated medication room. Also, those centers that used a disposable container versus a nondisposable container for priming the dialyzer had a significantly lower incidence of HCV.