April 1, 2022

DVAC Warns Against Surge in Catheter Use for Dialysis Patients

WASHINGTON, DC — During National Kidney Month, the Dialysis Vascular Access Coalition (DVAC) is shining a spotlight on a disturbing trend taking place in the field of vascular access and how it impacts dialysis patients.


Data from Vasc-Alert shows that patients who are on a catheter instead of an arteriovenous access (fistula or graft) had increased 44% since 2018. In addition, the available data shows that rates of long-term catheter use increased significantly during the COVID–19 pandemic. 


The catheter backslide is troubling news for patients because fistulas are recognized as the best vascular access option for patients. Conversely, central line catheters have demonstrated high infection rates, high hospitalization rates, and high costs. Compared to fistulas, the average annual total cost of treating patients with catheters is significantly higher ($90,000 for catheters vs. $64,000 for fistulas). 


Research has shown that fistulas are the gold standard for quality dialysis vascular access for multiple reasons, including lower rates of infection and loss of function due to clotting. 


Dr. Dean Preddie, DVAC’s policy chair, said, “This trend away from fistulas is bad news for dialysis patients because they aren’t receiving the ‘gold standard’ of care. It puts patients at greater risk of higher infection rates, higher hospitalization rates, and higher costs. Health system consolidation is making this trend worse because when a vascular access center is forced to close due to insufficient Medicare reimbursement levels, it means patients are more likely to receive a catheter. DVAC will continue to raise awareness about this alarming catheter trend.”