Background The utilisation of healthcare resources by prevalent haemodialysis patients has been robustly evaluated with regard to the provision of outpatient haemodialysis; however, the impact of hospitalisation among such patients is poorly defined. Minimal information is available in the UK to estimate the health and economic burden associated with the inpatient management of prevalent haemodialysis patients. The aim of this study was to assess the pattern of hospitalisation among a cohort of haemodialysis patients, before and following their initiation of haemodialysis. In addition the study sought to assess the impact of their admissions on bed occupancy in a large tertiary referral hospital in a single region in the UK.
Methods All admission episodes were reviewed and those receiving dialysis with the Belfast City Hospital Programme were identified over a 5 year period from January 2001 to December 2005. This tertiary referral centre provides dialysis services for a population of approximately 700 000 and additional specialist renal services for the remainder of Northern Ireland. The frequency and duration of hospitalisation, and contribution to bed day occupancy of haemodialysis patients, was determined and compared to other common conditions which are known to be associated with high bed occupancy. In addition, the pattern and timing of admissions in dialysis patients in relation to their dialysis initiation date was assessed.
Results Over the 5 year study period, 798 haemodialysis patients were admitted a total of 2882 times. These accounted for 2.5% of all admissions episodes; the median number of admissions for these patients was 3 (2–5) which compared with 1 (1–2) for non-dialysis patients. The majority of first hospitalisations (54%) were within 100 days before or after commencement of maintenance dialysis therapy. In all clinical specialties the median length of stay for haemodialysis patients was significantly longer than for patients not on haemodialysis (p=0.004). In multivariate analysis with adjustment for age, gender, and other clinically relevant diagnostic codes, maintenance haemodialysis patients stayed on average 3.75 times longer than other patient groups (ratio of geometric means 3.75, IQR 3.46–4.06).
Conclusions Maintenance haemodialysis therapy is an important risk factor for prolonged hospitalisation regardless of the primary reason for admission. Such patients require admission more frequently than the general hospital population, particularly within 100 days before and after initiation of their first dialysis treatment.
- Health informatics
- organisation of health services
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The results presented in this paper have not been published previously in whole or part, except in abstract form. All authors have consented to the submission and potential publication of this paper.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.