Association of Scheduled vs Emergency-Only Dialysis with Health Outcomes and Costs in Undocumented Immigrants with End-stage Renal Disease

Oanh K Nguyen, Miguel A. Vazquez, Lakeesha Charles, Joseph R. Berger, Henry Quiñones, Richard Fuquay, Joanne M. Sanders, Kandice A. Kapinos, Ethan A Halm, Anil N Makam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Importance: In 40 of 50 US states, scheduled dialysis is withheld from undocumented immigrants with end-stage renal disease (ESRD); instead, they receive intermittent emergency-only dialysis to treat life-threatening manifestations of ESRD. However, the comparative effectiveness of scheduled dialysis vs emergency-only dialysis and the influence of treatment on health outcomes, utilization, and costs is uncertain. Objective: To compare the effectiveness of scheduled vs emergency-only dialysis with regard to health outcomes, utilization, and costs in undocumented immigrants with ESRD. Design, Setting, and Participants: Observational cohort study of 181 eligible adults with ESRD receiving emergency-only dialysis in Dallas, Texas, who became newly eligible and applied for private commercial health insurance in February 2015; 105 received coverage and were enrolled in scheduled dialysis; 76 were not enrolled in insurance for nonclinical reasons (eg, lack of capacity at a participating outpatient dialysis center) and remained uninsured, receiving emergency-only dialysis. We examined data on eligible persons during a 6-month period prior to enrollment (baseline period, August 1, 2014-January 31, 2015) until 12 months after enrollment (follow-up period, March 1, 2015-February 29, 2016), with an intervening 1-month washout period (February 2015). All participants were undocumented immigrants; self-reported data on immigration status was collected from Parkland Hospital electronic health records. Exposures: Enrollment in private health insurance coverage and scheduled dialysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: We used enrollment in health insurance and scheduled dialysis to estimate the influence of scheduled dialysis on 1-year mortality, utilization, and health care costs, using a propensity score-adjusted, intention-to-treat approach, including time-to-event analyses for mortality, difference-in-differences (DiD) negative binomial regression analyses for utilization, and DiD gamma generalized linear regression for health care costs. Results: Of 181 eligible adults with ESRD, 105 (65 men, 40 women; mean age, 45 years) received scheduled dialysis and 76 (38 men, 38 women; mean age, 52 years) received emergency-only dialysis. Compared with emergency-only dialysis, scheduled dialysis was significantly associated with reduced mortality (3% vs 17%, P =.001; absolute risk reduction, 14%; number needed to treat, 7; adjusted hazard ratio, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.2-18.2; P =.03), adjusted emergency department visits (-5.2 vs +1.1 visits/mo; DiD, -6.2; P <.001), adjusted hospitalizations (-2.1 vs -0.5 hospitalizations/6 months; DiD, -1.6; P <.001), adjusted hospital days (-9.2 vs +0.8 days/6 months; DiD, -9.9; P =.007), and adjusted costs (-$4316 vs +$1452 per person per month; DiD, -$5768; P <.001). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, scheduled dialysis was significantly associated with reduced 1-year mortality, health care utilization, and costs compared with emergency-only dialysis. Scheduled dialysis should be the universal standard of care for all individuals with ESRD in the United States..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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