Preparing for the Unexpected with Home Dialysis

By Natalie Hewel, R.N.

If you’re a home dialysis patient or considering home dialysis, you may worry about what to do when unexpected situations arise while you’re dialyzing at home. For example, what if your power goes out, or you have a machine alarm you can’t fix?

Your home dialysis healthcare team will show you what you need to know to deal with the unexpected during your home dialysis training course. The key to success during an unexpected situation is not to worry, stay calm and have all the necessary supplies on hand.

1. A list of important phone numbers

You should keep a list of important phone numbers near all of your telephones or somewhere else easy to locate. The list should include:

  • police department
  • fire department
  • your dialysis training center
  • on-call number
  • power company
  • water company
  • dialysis machine/supplier technical support
  • nephrologist
  • other doctors
  • pharmacy number

2. An emergency plan

When it comes to natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods, you will need an emergency plan for leaving your home. DaVita provides each patient with a handout of supplies you will need to have, entitled “The Emergency Preparedness Plan.”  In short, this plan outlines:

  • the contents of an emergency box or kit
  • foods to purchase
  • a three-day diet plan
  • instructions on how to disinfect water

3. An emergency kit

Most training centers will provide you with an emergency kit to keep near your dialysis equipment at home. 

Samples of items in the emergency kit are:

  • tape
  • scissors
  • syringes
  • first-aid antiseptic
  • flashlight
  • gloves
  • masks

Also, don’t forget to include a copy of your Kardex. Your Kardex includes your dialysis prescription, the medications you are taking, allergies you have and other important information and is updated monthly by the dialysis staff.

When you receive home training, your staff will cover several different problems and emergencies that could possibly occur while dialyzing at home and show you how to deal with them. Take this opportunity during your training to practice and make sure you understand everything and are confident handling the situations at home. The more you review the procedures, the more confident you will feel in dealing with emergencies. Also, know that you can call your home dialysis health care team anytime you have problems or questions.

About Natalie Hewel

Natalie Hewel is a home-training nurse at Camelback DaVita at Home in Scottsdale, AZ.


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