Initiation of maintenance hemodialysis through central venous catheters: Study of patients' perceptions based on a structured questionnaire

Tanya T. Tang, Murray L. Levin*, Shubhada N. Ahya, Khaled Boobes, Muhammad H. Hasan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Despite well-publicized suggestions to utilize arteriovenous fistulae and grafts to initiate hemodialysis, too many patients in the United States start dialysis via central venous catheters despite their well-known association with increased morbidity, mortality, and cost. Methods: To determine the reasons for this high rate of catheter use, and, ultimately, ways to reduce it, we developed a questionnaire designed to determine where in the process of patient care the process to fistula or graft placement was not completed, thus requiring the use of central venous catheters. The questionnaire was reviewed by several nephrologists not involved with the study. We administered the questionnaire to 52 consecutive hospitalized patients who started maintenance dialysis with catheters at a University-affiliated Hospital and referral center. The questionnaire asked each patient to provide details pertaining to pre-dialysis care, referrals, and follow-through on recommended referrals. If the patient did not see the physician to whom he/she was referred, we asked the reason(s) for such failure. Results: Patient responses showed that there were two major lapses in the transition from diagnosis of advanced kidney disease to construction of appropriate dialysis access: failure by the patients to see a nephrologist and/or an access surgeon, and failure by physicians to refer patients to an access surgeon. Twenty percent of the patients failed to follow up with either a nephrologist or a surgeon. Only 38% (15/40) of those seen by a nephrologist had been referred to a surgeon. Conclusions: The quality of care was impaired by lack of referral to surgeons by nephrologists and by lack of follow-through by patients. Areas for improvement include improved communications between physicians and patients and more careful follow-up by both physicians and patients. Several methods of providing better patient care and communication between patients and nephrologists are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number270
JournalBMC nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 17 2019


  • Hemodialysis
  • Surgical referrals
  • Tunneled catheters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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