Sponsored by: Renadyl™

Every day, people go to doctor’s appointments, are admitted to the hospital, and attend outpatient hemodialysis treatments for healthcare services. Being comfortable with your healthcare team and knowing what your care consists of is vital to your health and safety. Understanding what your healthcare provider or dialysis facility tells you will help you take better care of and protect yourself. When you’re with your healthcare provider, it’s so important to ask questions and understand what’s going on with your care. Don’t be afraid to actively take part in everything about your care. Healthcare providers are there to take care of you and assist you if necessary.

However, it is your job to help take care of yourself and take charge of your own health care. If you don’t know what’s going on with your personal healthcare, the chance of errors is much higher. You will have better and safer care if you advocate for yourself. If you have any questions or concerns about your care, don’t hesitate to speak up. In addition, if you don’t understand what’s been told to you, ask again. It is your body, so you have a right to know what’s going on. For example, if you’re at dialysis and you see an unfamiliar nurse come towards you with medication in their hand, don’t be afraid to ask the nurse if they have the correct medication for you. Your safety is too important to worry about embarrassment or hurting someone’s feelings.

If you or a family member just started attending outpatient hemodialysis, chances are you may not be familiar with the outpatient hemodialysis process. In fact, many patients who begin dialysis are overwhelmed with a lot of information and may not think about asking a question pertaining to their treatment. Below are some suggestions to help you advocate for your care at outpatient hemodialysis or doctor’s appointment:

  • Pay close attention to the care you are receiving during hemodialysis treatment. Don’t assume just because it’s routine, it’s always correct.
  • Make sure your dialysis caregiver wears gloves and uses hand sanitizer or washes their hands.
  • Educate yourself about your kidney disease and dialysis. Gather information about your condition and treatment options. Your healthcare team and the internet are good places to go for information.
  • Be sure to read all medical forms and information before you sign anything or leave the office or dialysis facility in case you have questions and to make sure you understand.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to be your advocate. They can ask questions you may have forgotten or advocate when you don’t. Be sure this person understands your treatment and preferences.
  • Know what medications you take & why you take them. Medication errors are the most common type of medical error. In fact, always have a current medication list either at home, in your car, or on your person in case you have questions or to share with others. Be sure to talk about any allergies you have.

In addition to these suggestions, if you’re not happy with your dialysis center or seeking to find another facility, you can use Dialysis Facility Compare to compare dialysis facilities in your area. This site is provided by Medicare. You can find out if the facilities are Medicare certified, get locations, shifts availability, and types of dialysis offered. Also, remember to participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are at the center of the health care team.

Make sure to keep copies of all your health care records from your hospitalizations for your doctor and facility.

One last tip, ask these 3 questions when you get information on your care:

  1. What is the main problem?
  2. What do I need to do about it?
  3. Why is it important to me?

Remember, this is your life they are caring for. If you have any questions about your care, talk with your doctor or healthcare team.     

Learn more about our sponsor Renadyl here https://bit.ly/3sZDWbb

About the author

Steven Belcher, RN, MSN, MS, is a dedicated kidney advocate who began his journey 20 years ago as a dialysis nurse. This job inspired him to help as many people with kidney disease as he could. Not only did he spend two decades caring for a patient’s physical and emotional needs in a clinical setting, but he also educated the public on the risk factors of kidney disease. Some of his many philanthropic successes include being a keynote speaker at the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/ Technologists (NANT), presenting at community spaces, and launching radio shows.

He now focuses his time entirely on his organization Urban Kidney Alliance, which educates the public about kidney disease. His goal? To lower rates of Chronic Kidney Disease in urban communities in Baltimore, Maryland, across the country, and globally through education and collaboration.

Steve has also written the book “HOW TO SURVIVE OUTPATIENT HEMODIALYSIS: A GUIDE FOR PATIENTS WITH KIDNEY FAILURE.” You can read the book review here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. The content on our website is for informational and educational purposes only.