Survey of Infection Control Practices in Hemodialysis Units: Preventing Vascular Access–Associated Bloodstream Infections

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Despite surveillance, the Quebec Healthcare-Associated Infections Surveillance Program saw no improvement in vascular access–associated bloodstream infections in hemodialysis (HD). We aimed to determine the infection control measures recommended and implemented in Quebec's HD units, compliance of local protocols to infection control practice guidelines, and reasons behind the low prevalence of arteriovenous fistulas.


An online survey was elaborated on the basis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative guidelines. The questionnaire was validated (construct, content, face validity, and reliability) and sent to all HD units in Quebec (n = 40). Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics, linear regression, and Poisson regression.


Thirty-seven (93%) of 40 HD units participated. Thirty (94%) of the 32 centers where central catheters are inserted have written insertion protocols. Compliance with practice guidelines is good, except for full-body draping during catheter insertion (79%) and ointment use at insertion site (3%). Prevention measures for catheter maintenance are in accordance with guidelines, except for skin disinfection with at least 0.5% chlorhexidine and 70% alcohol (67% compliance) and regular antiseptic ointment use at the insertion site (3%). Before fistula cannulation, skin preparation is suboptimal; forearm hygiene is performed in only 61% of cases. Several factors explain the low rate of fistulas, including patient preference (69%) and lack of surgical resources (39%; P = .01).


Improvement in standardization of care according to practice guidelines is necessary. Fistula rate could be increased by improving access to surgical resources and patient education. Strategies are now being elaborated to address these findings.

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