(Bloomberg) -- Black and Hispanic dialysis patients who account for about half of all Americans undergoing the blood-cleaning procedure are more likely than White people to get life-threatening staph bloodstream infections.

Hispanic patients on dialysis had a 40% higher risk of staph bloodstream infections than their White counterparts, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, while the risk was about 10% higher among Black patients, who constitute about a third of US people undergoing the procedure.

Dialysis is a life-saving therapy that removes toxins from the blood of people with damaged or failing kidneys, the organs that normally perform this function. Needles and catheters involved in the procedure can sometimes make people vulnerable to infections; people on dialysis are 100 times more likely than those not on dialysis to get dangerous staph infections, according to the CDC research.

Complex relationships among age, race and ethnicity, social determinants of health and dialysis-associated infection risk warrant additional study, the researchers concluded. Certain procedures like the use of fistula, a connection made between an artery and a vein for dialysis access, rather than a catheter is one of the key ways to reduce risk of infection.

“Dialysis-associated bloodstream infections are preventable — not inevitable,” said Shannon Novosad, dialysis safety team leader in CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “Our data show that use of a central venous catheter as a vascular access type had six times higher risk for staph bloodstream infections when compared to the lowest-risk access, a fistula.”

The CDC researchers analyzed data from the 2020 National Healthcare Safety Network and the 2017-2020 Emerging Infections Program. Other ways to reduce risk of infection include educating patients about treatment options for end-stage kidney disease and increasing access to preventive care for conditions like diabetes, which can increase the risk of developing end-stage kidney disease. 


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