Dialysis centers may experience time savings by switching patients from thrice-weekly epoetin alfa (EPO) to once-weekly darbepoetin alfa (DPO) because fewer administrations are required, a new study found. Time savings would provide opportunities to redirect nurse time towards activities aimed at improving patient care, according to researchers.

J. Mark Stephens, BS, of Prima Analytics of Weymouth, Mass., and colleagues conducted a time and motion study of staff time required to prepare, administer, and document erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) doses. Dialysis centers using intravenous administration of thrice-weekly EPO or once-weekly DPO were selected in pairs (1 EPO, 1 DPO) from the same organization to help control for differences in ESA protocols and staffing patterns across organizations, Stephens’ group noted. Trained observers timed ESA-related tasks.

Researchers observed a total of 200 ESA administrations (81 DPO, 119 EPO). Each administration required a mean of 2.26 minutes. ESA process time per administration did not vary significantly between EPO and DPO, the investigators noted.

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The estimated potential monthly staff time savings for an average facility with 70 patients totaled 23 hours because of fewer ESA administrations using once-weekly DPO, the investigators reported online in Current Medical Research and Opinion. “Patient education and fulfillment of care plans were identified as opportunities for improved care processes that could be implemented if staff time was freed up from the ESA process,” the authors wrote.