Protocolized Anemia Management with Erythropoietin in Hemodialysis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial
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Treatment of the anemia of chronic renal failure with exogenous recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) is well established. The objective of this randomized clinical trial was to evaluate an anemia management team protocol in hemodialysis patients, using subcutaneous rHuEpo and intravenous iron. A total of 215 patients were randomized to either usual care or the protocol. The primary outcome was the proportion of patient hemoglobin (Hgb) values between 11.0 and 12.5 g/dl over the final 8 wk. The study was halted after 240 d because of an institutional change to intravenous rHuEpo. The proportion of Hgb values in the target range increased from 47.4% to 62.8% overall (P = 0.001); there was no difference between treatment groups. The proportion of baseline Hgb values between 11.0 and 12.5 g/dl increased from 44.6% in patients who had enrolled within the first 3 mo of study inception to 75.0% in those who started later (P = 0.017), suggesting a Hawthorne effect. A nonsignificant decrease in rHuEpo dose was observed in the protocol group; subgroup analysis in patients who were enrolled for at least 5 mo demonstrated a reduction in the rHuEpo dose of 2788 units/wk in the protocol group (P < 0.05), independent of intravenous iron dose. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that a higher transferrin saturation and albumin and protocol group assignment were associated with a lower final rHuEpo dose. This study demonstrated that a protocolized approach to anemia management in hemodialysis patients results in comparable Hgb levels and may reduce rHuEpo requirements, independent of iron use.
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