What Does A Dialysis Technician Do?

"I want to work in a career that will enable me to help patients suffering from kidney disease. My mother had end-stage renal disease and I saw how her dialysis technicians were able to brighten her day so I want to know more about this occupation. What does a dialysis technician do?"

asked by Frank K. from Thermopolis, Wyoming

A dialysis technician helps patients undergoing hemodialysis, a procedure that removes blood wastes and fluids from the body when the kidneys fail. Together with registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, dialysis technicians operate hemodialysis machines and watch over patients while they are undergoing the procedure.

One of the first things that dialysis technicians do is to set up and operate the hemodialysis machine. Setting up the equipment entails attaching the dialyzer and tubing to the machine in order to get it ready for use. Following the formula, they also mix the dialysate and then prepare the machine by priming the dialyzer with saline solution.

Dialysis technicians also bring the patient to the dialysis room and assists in positioning the patient comfortably on the chair near the hemodialysis machine. Before administering the procedure, technicians obtain the patient’s vital signs. These include his blood pressure, weight, temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate.

Before commencing with the treatment, dialysis technicians explain the procedure to the patients, especially to those who are undergoing it for the first-time. This is important to calm their fears and worries. They would then sanitize the access point and connects the hemodialysis machine to the access point of the patient so the procedure can begin. Before starting the blood flow pump, dialysis technicians check the settings to ensure that everything is in order. This final check is also done to make certain that important readings for pressure, temperature and conductivity are in accordance with established safety standards.

While the procedure is going on, dialysis technicians check the venous and arterial pressures to see that these are within the set limits. All throughout the procedure, they monitor the patient for allergic reactions and constantly check the machine to see that it is functioning as it should. In the event of a malfunction, they are trained to promptly address the issue. This makes it vital for dialysis technicians to extensively know the machine used in the treatment facility. If the patient experiences a hypotensive episode, clotting issues or needle displacement, the dialysis technicians are trained to handle such situations. They are also trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR in case the patient suffers cardiac arrest in the middle of the procedure.

After the procedure, dialysis technicians again get the vital signs of the patient. These include his weight, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates and temperature. They are also responsible for discarding the used dialysis supplies and sanitizing the equipment following the protocol set forth by the manufacturer of the unit.

In addition to doing the technical aspect of the job, dialysis technicians are an integral part of the patient’s healthcare team. They discuss the patient’s psychosocial, medical and nutritional concerns with the registered nurse and other members of the team. They are also expected to abide by patient confidentiality policies when providing care.

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