Starting Outpatient Hemodialysis
You likely have many questions about starting hemodialysis. This handout will explain what to expect on your first day at the clinic.
Your schedule is listed at the end of this handout.
- On your first day, arrive 30 minutes in advance because you will need to sign a number of consent forms and other papers.
- You need to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your “start time” for each treatment to allow time for staff to get you on the machine.
The staff will explain the machines and all that you need to know on in the first 2 weeks. Bring someone with you for support and to help you talk through and sort out all you will learn. Your family or friends may also want to come just to know more about your treatments.
Insurance Cards and I.D.
On your first day, please stop at the front desk and give your name. The staff will make copies and return these cards to you.
- Insurance cards, Medicare, HMO, Medical Assistance, and private insurance
- Social Security card
Bring a blanket if you want. Many patients feel a little chilly during their dialysis treatments. The blanket should be washable. Some clinics provide blankets to you.
Wear clothing that allows your catheter, fistula, or graft to be seen at all times during the treatment. You may need to buy one or two clothing items for treatments if you don’t have something that works. All of the clothing you wear should be washable.
- If your access is in your arm, wear short sleeves or roll-up sleeves.
- If your access is in your neck or chest, wear a button-down or a V-neck shirt.
Most clinics will not allow eating and drinking during treatments. Some clinics will provide ice chips and water. Please eat more than one hour before coming to dialysis or eat after you leave. You may have a drop in blood pressure if you eat during the treatment.
If You Need Help Getting In and Out of Your Seat
If you need help getting in and out of a car, bring someone to help you. The staff cannot leave the clinic to help you in the parking lot. They will help you while you are in the clinic.
If you are planning to drive yourself to the clinic, have someone else drive you the first 1-2 weeks. Your body needs time to adjust to the treatments. You may feel a little unsteady the first few times you have dialysis.
Transportation and Back-up Plan
You need to be able to count on a ride to treatments. Think about having a back-up plan in place in case your plans fall through. Many people find if useful to sign up with a driving service or volunteer program to get to treatments. Your social worker can help you with this.
You will have a social worker that will be present to help you while you are a patient at the dialysis clinic. The social worker can help you and your family with many issues (i.e. rides to and from dialysis, Medicare enrollment, coping with chronic dialysis, home care needs, accessing community resources) that come up while making the changes in your life required by dialysis. If you have questions, you can ask to talk to the social worker when you first start.
600 Highland Avenue - C53
Madison, WI 53792-5745
The Spanish version of this HFFY is #7388
My Dialysis Clinic
- Name of Dialysis Clinic: ___________________________________________________
- Address: ___________________________________________________
- Phone Number: __________________________________________________________
- Directions to Dialysis Clinic: _________________________________________________________
- Does the dialysis clinic allow patients to eat and drink during treatments? _____________
- Name of Social Worker: ___________________________________________________
My Dialysis Schedule
1. Days (circle): Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
- Treatment time: ________________________________
- The first day: Arrive at __________ and leave at __________
- After the first day: Arrive at __________ and leave at __________
If you have further questions about your first day at outpatient dialysis, feel free to call the clinic before you start your first treatment.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/29/2013
Copyright © 08/29/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6435
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