Death Rates Higher in For-Profit Dialysis Centers

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An average of 2,500 premature deaths per year occur in for-profit kidney dialysis centers in the United States, according to research that analyzed data from eight large observational studies covering the years 1973 through 1997 and including more than 500,000 patient-years of data.

Some 208,000 people per year receive dialysis, 75 percent of those through a for-profit center. On average, 20 percent of dialysis patients die each year, with the death rate in private for-profit centers estimated at 8 percent higher than that in private not-for-profit centers.

Researchers said the higher death rates occur when for-profit centers cut corners to produce a higher profit margin. According to the research report, “studies have demonstrated that private for-profit dialysis centers employ fewer personnel per dialysis run and less-highly skilled personnel. Other studies have also demonstrated that patients at for-profit dialysis facilities have shorter durations of dialysis treatment [which is] associated with higher mortality.”

Diabetes-related kidney disease accounts for more than one-third of all dialysis patients in the United States and is the leading cause of end-stage kidney failure.

Journal of the American Medical Association, November 20, 2002

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