COVID-19 Risks Could Speed Transitions To At-Home Dialysis

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in a “huge paradigm shift” toward in-home dialysis treatments in the future, experts predict. Home “is the safest place for them to be,” said Dr. Holly Kramer, president of the National Kidney Foundation and a practicing nephrologist. In times like this, immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of becoming ill. Roughly 85% of dialysis patients get their treatments in centers—often three days a week, and typically for several hours at a time—where other dialysis patients also are being treated, she said. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, nephrologists nationwide were urging a growing number of patients to consider at-home care, she said, and the pandemic “will push things much, much faster” in that direction.

State’s Dialysis Centers Rate High, With Some Exceptions, New Data Show

Five dialysis facilities in Connecticut received low quality-of-care scores under a new Medicare rating system, including one center cited for a high death rate, while 11 facilities received the highest rating possible, federal data show. Connecticut has 45 dialysis facilities in the Medicare program, all but four of them for-profit. Of the 41 for-profit centers, the majority are owned by two chains – DaVita, which has 24, and Fresenius Medical Care, with 13. Medicare began rating dialysis facilities earlier this year on a scale of one to five stars, based on nine measures of quality of care. The measures include mortality and hospitalization rates of patients, as well as rates of hypercalcemia, catherization of more than 90 days, and the percentage of dialysis patients who had enough wastes removed from their blood during dialysis.