Lessons learnt and future directions in managing dialysis access during the COVID 19 pandemic: Patient and provider experience in the United States


University of Illinois at Chicago/Advocate Christ Medical Center


BACKGROUND: The COVID 19 pandemic adversely impacted delivery of preventive, routine, urgent, and essential care worldwide. Dialysis access care was particularly affected due to the lack of specific guidelines regarding procedures for its creation and maintenance. Early guidance by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was inadvertently interpreted as guidance to stop dialysis access procedures. Prompt action by professional societies was needed to furnish detailed guidance to establish essential nature of these procedures.

METHODS: The American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (ASDIN) issued a joint statement with Vascular Access Society of the Americas (VASA) - "Maintaining Lifelines for ESKD Patients" to clearly establish the role of vascular access as a lifeline for ESKD (End Stage Kidney Disease) patients and the importance and urgency of its timely management. ASDIN also conducted a survey in mid-2020, that was administered to the ASDIN database as well as shared with the general public via the organization's social media platforms. The respondents reported their experiences in the care of dialysis access, practice patterns and the utility of the ASDIN-VASA statement during the COVID 19 pandemic.

RESULTS: Of the 2030 individual surveys sent, 581 were opened and 53 (9.1%) responses were received from different parts of the country and from different practice settings. ASDIN COVID 19 triage document was frequently utilized and 83% of respondents found the document valuable. The survey also revealed multiple obstacles, including logistical and financial issues that led to significant disruption of services.

CONCLUSIONS: The care of dialysis access was significantly affected in the United States during the COVID 19 pandemic due to multiple reasons. ASDIN actions provided valuable specific guidance regarding and explored barriers to dialysis access care. We describe those results and discuss strategies to prevent COVID 19 transmission with innovative strategies of providing access care. Individualized decision making is of essence when considering dialysis access procedures.

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