Filtering a patient’s blood with hemodialysis is a sophisticated process involving many steps. Each of these steps may be critical to keeping patients free from harm, while maintaining their comfort. Dialysis treatments can only be straightforward and routine when the healthcare team, including the dialysis technician, pays close attention. The dialysis technician is generally involved in direct patient care. They will need to learn the types of patient care tasks, technical tasks, and skills in order to deliver safe and effective treatment. While the exact tasks a dialysis technician can do will vary in various ways, preventing work related injuries should always be added into the care plan.
A dialysis technician utilizes their musculoskeletal system on the job to stand, walk, sit, or squat to carry, lift, push, or pull objects. Your muscles and back can be injured with these tasks. When you make good use of body mechanics, muscle strain and fatigue can be prevented. The dialysis technician should only utilize the correct muscles to complete a task safely and efficiently, moving your body to prevent injury. Awkward postures, repetitive motion, and heavy lifting are the three most common causes of musculoskeletal injury. To function effectively, you need to make friction, leverage, and gravity work for you, not against you.
How to Use Proper Body Mechanics:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend from your hips and knees. – Make use of what you encounter in your day-to-day work. Never bend at the waist or turn your body when lifting, pushing, or pulling any object, such as supply boxes.
- When picking up objects, put your hands around it, and hold it close to your body. – Always bend your knees, while keeping your back straight. As always, you’ll want to utilize your arm and leg muscles, not your back.
- Ask for help. – When an object is too heavy for you to lift by yourself, don’t bother trying. Ask for help.
- Think before you lift. – When you make random decisions, often you will look back at the consequences and regret them.
- Stay at your ideal body weight. – Maintaining your weight significantly contributes to your overall physical health and well-being. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet should be important for every Dialysis Technician. Knowing your ideal body weight can be a crucial factor in your health. While the ranges of ideal body weight are normally based on height, gender, and age, there is still no definite answer regarding the “best” weight for a dialysis technician. If you are trying to lose, or even gain weight – your target should be a healthy weight within the ranges that studies have proven the healthiest. However, if the dialysis technician undertakes a weight loss regime that includes exercise and diet, keep in mind that the exercise will most likely increase his muscle mass. Muscle definitely weighs more than fat. Regular exercise may increase your weight, even though your waist may shrink. That’s why, as a rule of thumb, “Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height.” For instance, a male dialysis technician 6-ft (72 inches, 183 cm) tall, should keep his waist circumference below 36 inches (91 cm). To accurately measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around its narrowest part, just above your hipbones. The dialysis technician should only measure his waist just after he breathes out.
- Strengthen your leg and stomach muscles. – Having a strong lower body, or leg muscles, is important for maintaining mobility and agility.
- Slow, smooth movements are safer than fast, jerky ones. – It requires far less energy to do slow, smooth movements instead of fast, jerky ones. Breath. Take your time.
- Stop what you are doing if you develop back pain. – Acute back pain can lead to a number of complications including trouble walking up stairs, standing, or sitting, or lost work time.
A dialysis technician is expected to do different types of patient transfers. This step is mainly designed to prevent injuries to yourself, other staff, and patients. The technique you will use will typically vary with how well patients can mobilize, stand up, and bear their own weight.
How to Transfer Patients:
- A patient who can bear his own weight can transfer alone. – However, no matter how physically capable a patient is, the dialysis technician should stand by in case the patient needs help. Keep in mind that patients may feel dizzy especially after treatment.
- Seek assistance from another staff member, or make use of a lift device if a patient can’t bear his or her full weight. – An ergonomic approach to patient handling that is part of an overall program to reduce musculoskeletal injuries can benefit a dialysis technician and dialysis centers alike.
- Never move a patient who has unusual fatigue, nausea, or unstable pulse or blood pressure. – Unstable patients have the highest risk of falling. The dialysis technician should master how to minimize falls. If a patient tries to stand up and is unsteady, assist him to sit back on the edge of the chair or bed that he started from.
- Try your best to slowly ease the patient down to the floor if you can’t prevent a fall. – To effectively minimize the risk for injuries, the relative sizes of the dialysis technician and the client should be considered when determining the need for additional staff to aid in a transfer.
- Patients who utilize walkers may need assistance to ensure they can balance and will not fall. – While it may be faster for you to put patients in a wheelchair, it is physically better and emotionally more satisfying for the patient to use the walker.
- During chair-to-chair transfers, do not forget to lock the wheelchair. – Always apply the brakes whenever you move a patient to or from a wheelchair. But even with the brakes applied, keep the wheelchair steady in place by holding it or putting a foot against a wheel to keep it from slipping or tipping over.
- Utilize the stand and pivot technique. – This transfer is only possible if a patient can bear enough weight to stand. To do this technique, the patient is helped to a position on the more capable side of his body, either left or right, with both feet on the floor, heels behind the knees, and knees lower than the hips. The patient is then assisted to stand with the weight on the strong leg, pivots on it, and carefully lowers the body into another chair or bed.
- Use a slide board when doing a chair-to-chair sideways transfer. – Slide boards are normally smooth and shiny to reduce friction. Before starting the transfer, assess if the task will be too difficult before proceeding. During the transfer, lock the wheelchair and hold onto it. In ideal conditions the two surfaces should be as level as possible, or the surface you are sliding the patient to can be a little lower. To prevent any possible injuries, have another dialysis technician who can help ease the patient to the floor if he slips or the board moves.
An emergency is an unexpected event, such as fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, ice storm, or earthquake. Any emergency will require help or immediate action from everyone in the healthcare team, not just the dialysis technician. In an unlikely event that these situations arise, patients and staff may have to evacuate the center. A dialysis technician, on the other hand, will need to know how to help.
How to Prepare for Emergencies:
- Immediately notify staff and emergency services personnel. – Know who to call. Understanding the need for comprehensive emergency notification preparedness will save lives.
- Know where to find all the exit doors. – Your priority during an emergency is to keep your patients safe. Know how to put out a fire, using fire extinguishers.
- Do remember to R.A.C.E. in case of fire. – (R)escue, (A)ctivate the alarm, (C)ontain the small fire, and (E)vacuate.
- Just P.A.S.S. when using a fire extinguisher. – (P)ull the pin, (A)im the nozzle at the base of the fire, (S)queeze the handle, (S)pray from side to side at the base of the fire.
- Disconnect patients who can walk without help from the machine to evacuate first. – Depending on the type of emergency, there will likely be staff shortages. Because of this, stronger patients are asked to evacuate first so patients who require more assistance will be cared for by more staff members.
- Disconnect patients who can walk, but will require minimal assistance from the machine second. – Some care providers may be required to accompany patients during transport to a receiving care site.
- Disconnect patients who cannot walk and will need staff to help to evacuate from the machine last. – In most cases, the total number of patients in the facility who need assistance to evacuate safely will be substantially fewer than the total patient census.
- Evacuate the premises using the safest and closest exit. – Especially during a fire, the nearest exit may not be apparent due to the thick smoke. That’s why it’s important to be familiar with at least two paths of travel to an exit. However, the dialysis technician should always consider the time needed to travel.