Objectives: Acute renal replacement therapy in patients with sepsis has increased dramatically with substantial costs. However, the extent of variability in use across hospitals-and whether greater use is associated with better outcomes-is unknown.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Nationwide Inpatient Sample in 2011.
Patients: Eighteen years old and older with sepsis and acute kidney injury admitted to hospitals sampled by the Nationwide Inpatient Sample in 2011.
Interventions: We estimated the risk- and reliability-adjusted rate of acute renal replacement therapy use for patients with sepsis and acute kidney injury at each hospital. We examined the association between hospital-specific renal replacement therapy rate and in-hospital mortality and hospital costs after adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 293,899 hospitalizations with sepsis and acute kidney injury at 440 hospitals, of which 6.4% (n = 18,885) received renal replacement therapy. After risk and reliability adjustment, the median hospital renal replacement therapy rate for patients with sepsis and acute kidney injury was 3.6% (interquartile range, 2.9-4.5%). However, hospitals in the top quintile of renal replacement therapy use had rates ranging from 4.8% to 13.4%. There was no significant association between hospital-specific renal replacement therapy rate and in-hospital mortality (odds ratio per 1% increase in renal replacement therapy rate: 1.03; 95% CI, 0.99-1.07; p = 0.10). Hospital costs were significantly higher with increasing renal replacement therapy rates (absolute cost increase per 1% increase in renal replacement therapy rate: $1,316; 95% CI, $157-$2,475; p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Use of renal replacement therapy in sepsis varied widely among nationally sampled hospitals without associated differences in mortality. Improving renal replacement standards for the initiation of therapy for sepsis may reduce healthcare costs without increasing mortality.