The Dangers Of Missing Dialysis Treatments
May 29, 2014
Your doctor has prescribed your treatment time according to your individual needs. Most people on dialysis need 4 hour treatments, three times per week to maintain their physical health. Some patients may need more than 4 hours to clean their blood and remove all of the excess fluid that their body can not remove without dialysis. When you miss a treatment you put yourself at risk for long term health effects including fluid overload, heart problems and permanent damage to your system.
You also may miss important medications such as Epogen and Iron that your body needs to make red blood cells. Patients waiting for a kidney transplant should not miss any treatments, as you need to be in your best health for the kidney transplant operation and recovery.
Always schedule other appointments for non-dialysis days. If you cannot make your scheduled appointment, call the dialysis facility and request to reschedule to another time or day. It is okay to receive dialysis treatments two days in a row. You should not go more than 3 days without a dialysis treatment.
People often ask if they can shorten their treatment. It is important to remember that healthy kidneys clean your blood 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Dialysis makes up for only a small amount of processing of your blood. It is not recommended to reduce the amount of time on treatment because removing fluid and waste products over a longer period of time is less stressful on your heart. If we remove fluid and waste products too quickly, it can lead to low blood pressure and cramping. It may also cause permanent damage to your heart and brain.
Control of fluid and salt intake can make a big difference in how you feel. If you are not feeling well, ask to be evaluated by a nurse. The nurse can make changes to your machine that will help you feel better. The nurses communicate with the doctor on your behalf.
Understanding why we ask you to stay on for your full prescribed treatment time is important. We will educate you, but ultimately it is your decision. If you come off treatment early on multiple occasions, it adds up and can cause permanent harm to your body. Your healthcare team can help you to make medical care decisions. By participating in your care you improve how your body responds to the dialysis treatment.
– Linda Walck & Nancy Foley, co-chairs of the Renal Ventures Safety committee
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