Patient Care Technician Staffing and Outcomes among US Patients Receiving In-Center Hemodialysis

Laura C. Plantinga, Alexis A. Bender, Megan Urbanski, Clarica Douglas-Ajayi, Jennifer Craft Morgan, Karen Woo, Bernard G. Jaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Dialysis patient care technicians (PCTs) play a critical role in US in-center hemodialysis (HD) care, but little is known about the association of PCT staffing with patient outcomes at US HD facilities. Objective: To estimate the associations of in-center HD patient outcomes with facility-level PCT staffing. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a retrospective cohort study, with data analysis performed from March 2023 to January 2024. Data on US patients with end-stage kidney disease and their treatment facilities were obtained from the US Renal Data System. Participants included patients (aged 18-100 years) initiating in-center HD between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2018, who continued receiving in-center HD for 90 days or more and had data on PCT staffing at their initial treating HD facility. Exposure: Facility-level patient-to-PCT ratios (number of HD patients divided by the number of PCTs reported by the treating facility in the prior year), categorized into quartiles (highest quartile denotes the highest PCT burden). Main Outcomes and Measures: Patient-level outcomes included 1-year patient mortality, hospitalization, and transplantation. Associations of outcomes with quartile of patient-to-PCT ratio were estimated using incidence rate ratios (IRRs) from mixed-effects Poisson regression, with adjustment for patient demographics and clinical and facility factors. Results: A total of 236126 patients (mean [SD] age, 63.1 [14.4] years; 135952 [57.6%] male; 65945 [27.9%] Black; 37777 [16.0%] Hispanic; 153637 [65.1%] White; 16544 [7.0%] other race; 146107 [61.9%] with diabetes) were included. After full adjustment, the highest vs lowest quartile of facility-level patient-to-PCT ratio was associated with a 7% higher rate of patient mortality (IRR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.12), a 5% higher rate of hospitalization (IRR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02-1.08), an 8% lower rate of waitlisting (IRR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85-0.98), and a 20% lower rate of transplant (IRR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.71-0.91). The highest vs lowest quartile of patient-to-PCT ratio was also associated with an 8% higher rate of sepsis-related hospitalization (IRR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03-1.14) and a 15% higher rate of vascular access-related hospitalization (IRR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.03-1.28). Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that initiation of treatment in facilities with the highest patient-to-PCT ratios may be associated with worse early mortality, hospitalization, and transplantation outcomes. These results support further investigation of the impact of US PCT staffing on patient safety and quality of US in-center HD care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E241722
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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