Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment | Health Facilities

Dialysis Infections

Dialysis-Related Infections 

Dialysis is the process in which the blood supply is filtered through a machine because the kidneys are not able to perform this function. Since dialysis patients have a weakened immune system and the dialysis process involves entering the bloodstream, there is an increased risk for acquiring a bloodstream infection.There is the potential for person-to-person transmission of infections at dialysis clinics because several patients may be receiving treatment at the same time. The equipment, supplies, and staff working at the facility are also potential sources of transmission of pathogens. Therefore, it is very important for all equipment, supplies and surfaces to be properly cleaned between each treatment. There are two main types of dialysis-related infections:

  • Local access infection (LAI), which occurs when there is pus, redness, or swelling present at the vascular access site.
  • Access-related bacteremia (ARB), which occurs when there is a microorganism present in the blood that is also present where the infection was reported at the vascular access site. This type of infection is more serious and complex than a LAI.



Colorado conducts surveillance on dialysis infections for outpatient dialysis centers only. Peritoneal dialysis and home dialysis are not included in the reported data. The outpatient facilities may be dedicated, stand-alone facilities, hospital-based or affiliated units that primarily serve dialysis patients.

Dialysis infection rates are reported for both LAIs and ARBs. The infection rates are calculated by dividing the total number of patients by the total number of infections (either LAI or ARB) and then multiplying that number by 100. This gives the infection rate per 100 patients for both LAI and ARB. These rates are then compared to the national infection rates for both LAI and ARB and classified as statistically lower (better) than the national rate, statistically similar (same) as the national rate, or statistically higher (worse) than the national rate.

Click here to view the most recent dialysis related infection data for Colorado.


Learn more about dialysis from the Patient Safety Dialysis Bulletin by clicking here.

The CDC also has important information about dialysis infections and patient safety, find it here.