Hospital treatment for fluid overload in the medicare hemodialysis population

Thomas J. Arneson, Jiannong Liu, Yang Qiu, David T. Gilbertson, Robert N. Foley, Allan J. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: Fluid overload in hemodialysis patients sometimes requires emergent dialysis, but the magnitude of this care has not been characterized. This study aimed to estimate the magnitude of fluid overload treatment episodes for the Medicare hemodialysis population in hospital settings, including emergency departments. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: Point-prevalent hemodialysis patients were identified from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Renal Management Information System and Standard Analytical Files. Fluid overload treatment episodes were defined by claims for care in inpatient, hospital observation, or emergency department settings with primary discharge diagnoses of fluid overload, heart failure, or pulmonary edema, and dialysis performed on the day of or after admission. Exclusion criteria included stays >5 days. Cost was defined as total Medicare allowable costs for identified episodes. Associations between patient characteristics and episode occurrence and cost were analyzed. Results: For 25,291 patients (14.3%), 41,699 care episodes occurred over a mean follow-up time of 2 years: 86% inpatient, 9% emergency department, and 5% hospital observation. Heart failure was the primary diagnosis in 83% of episodes, fluid overload in 11%, and pulmonary edema in 6%. Characteristics associated with more frequent events included age <45 years, female sex, African-American race, causes of ESRD other than diabetes, dialysis duration of 1 to 3 years, fewer dialysis sessions per week at baseline, hospitalizations during baseline, and most comorbid conditions. Average cost was $6,372 per episode; total costs were approximately $266 million. Conclusions: Among U.S. hemodialysis patients, fluid overload treatment is common and expensive. Further study is necessary to identify prevention opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1054-1063
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010


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