News & Press
New Data from Vasc-Alert Shows an Increase in Catheter Use, Putting More and More Patients at Risk
DVAC warns that this increase is putting more dialysis patients at risk
March 31, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC — Responding to new data showing that the use of catheters is increasing, the Dialysis Vascular Access Coalition (DVAC) warns that this trend will undermine quality care and put more dialysis patients at risk. The data, released by Vasc-Alert, shows that the number of patients on a catheter instead of an arteriovenous access (fistula or graft) has increased by 44% following a 39% Medicare cut to vascular access services.
Research has proven that fistulas are the gold standard for quality dialysis access care. Catheters, on the other hand, have demonstrated higher infection and hospitalization rates and place significantly higher costs on Medicare. 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).
Ongoing Medicare Physician Fee Schedule cuts to office-based specialty care, including office-based vascular access care, like those included in the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), further restrict access to fistulas, leading to more catheter use.
Dr. Dean Preddie, the DVAC Policy Chair, said, “We must reverse this trend. This data is really concerning for patients. We know increased catheter rates have dire consequences for patients who could and should have access to the best care available. Here at DVAC, we’re very concerned about this data and will continue to advocate for reversing the trend of catheter use and the Medicare payment stability needed to give dialysis patients the best care possible.