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Reuse technicians are people at a dialysis facility who clean and sterilize dialyzers. A dialyzer is a filter that cleans the blood of excess fluid and waste. It is sometimes called the artificial kidney. Each patient has his own dialyzer, which is attached to the hemodialysis machine. It can be reused for a certain period of time. Strict procedures must be followed to make sure the dialyzer is clean, sterile and in working condition before it is used again. The reuse technician is the person responsible for making sure that each renal patient’s dialyzer meets these precise standards.
A reuse technician undergoes thorough training in the procedures needed to clean and inspect the dialyzers as well as operate and maintain the reuse machine.
After a kidney patient undergoes hemodialysis, his dialyzer is labeled with the patient’s name, sealed in a plastic bag and sent to the reuse technician. The reuse technician inspects each dialyzer for blood clots, rinses them out if they are present and then places the dialyzer onto the reuse machine for cleaning. The cleaning process starts by using reverse ultra filtration (RUF). This is water treated with reverse osmosis (RO). Reverse osmosis makes city water highly purified. RO water cleans the dialyzer without leaving traces of particles and chemicals on it.
After RUF, the reuse machine will do a pressure test for any holes in the dialyzer. The reuse machine will also check to see how much blood volume the dialyzer can hold. Dialyzers are sized according to blood volume. The blood volume used will depend on the renal patient’s weight. If the blood volume of the dialyzer is below 80% of its original number or if there are any holes in the dialyzer, the reuse technician will replace the patient’s dialyzer with a new one.
After the reuse machine has cleaned and tested the dialyzer, the reuse technician will disinfect it. The dialyzer will sit in disinfectant for at least 11 hours. Before it is used again, the patient care technician (PCT) must make sure that all disinfectant is cleaned from the dialyzer by letting saline flow through it. This is called priming. A test is performed to make sure no disinfectant is left on the dialyzer. The process is verified by two teammates. Once it is cleared, the dialyzer is ready for use.
Reuse technicians are also trained to look for blood clotting within the dialyzers. Clotting can sometimes mean the patient isn’t receiving enough heparin (an anti-clotting medication). Clots in the dialyzer can lessen the effectiveness of dialysis, and a kidney patient’s Kt/V (measurement of adequacy of dialysis) could go down. If the reuse technician notices clotting, he will alert a nurse and record it in the patient’s chart. The technician will also keep track of the number of times a dialyzer is used and will replace it after a predetermined number of reuses or as needed.
In addition to servicing the dialyzers, the reuse technician cleans and maintains the reuse machine. The machine is state-of-the-art equipment and is a vital part of the facility. The technician monitors the machine as well as the reverse osmosis water system and reports any problems to a biomedical technician.
Renal patients always have the option of not reusing their dialyzer. Patients with certain health conditions like hepatitis B are unable to participate in the reuse program. Your reuse technician can answer any questions you might have about reuse.
You can ask your reuse technician how many reuses your dialysis facility allows for dialyzers. The number varies from facility to facility. You can also ask what safety measures are in place to make sure you are getting the correct dialyzer at each treatment.
Like other team members at your facility, your reuse technician is there to provide you with a safe and comfortable dialysis treatment.
To see a listing of job openings and find out more about a career as a Reuse Technician with DaVita, go to the Careers page.
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