The personal gear a dialysis technician uses is designed to protect the wearer from exposure to microorganisms. Including a trusty wristwatch and stethoscope, these personal protective equipment are typically chosen depending on the procedures you’ll be performing. Since a dialysis technician can expect to handle blood and other body fluids anytime at work, one should wear a clean lab gown. For possible splashing or spraying, such as when you remove needles from the access site, you should wear a protective face shield. As long as you assume that your patient’s body fluids may be infectious, regardless of his known or expected status, you’ll be protecting yourself from infections and safety hazards. Even though the use of dialysis technician gear is usually mandatory, you can use these protective measures any time you feel you’re at risk for an exposure.
The Typical Dialysis Technician Gear
1. Face Shield – A face shield is a clear plastic full-face protective device used to prevent blood from getting to your face. It is an important consideration for any dialysis technician. The majority of dialysis technicians spend most of their time caring for kidney patients, placing them at huge risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens, body fluids, and chemical splashes. These fluids are potentially harmful, especially when they come into contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and eyes. Moreover, these fluids can permeate into open wounds on the skin. To counter these impending threats, a dialysis technician is required to wear a face shield during situations that may involve blood splatter, such as taking off patients, putting on patients, and adjusting needles. Dialysis technicians have a lot of options when it comes to choosing personal protective equipment for the workplace. However, those who want to effectively increase their protection, and thus decrease the risk of exposure, should insist on wearing a face shield.
When to Wear a Face Shield:
- During procedures that may cause droplets of body fluids or blood.
- At the beginning or end of a dialysis treatment.
- When assessing or troubleshooting the vascular access. When cannulating or injecting into the bloodlines.
2. Gown – A gown is used to protect the skin and to prevent soiling of clothing during dialysis. Since a treatment is likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood or body fluids, the wearing of a gown is mandatory every time you set foot on the floor. When selecting a gown, be sure to pick a size that completely covers your body but doesn’t restrict movement. During the end of a shift, remove the soiled gown as soon as possible and do thorough hand hygiene.
When to Wear a Gown:
- When doing procedures that may cause blood or body fluid to splash or spray.
- When handling patient care equipment that is dirtied with blood or body fluids.
- When generally preventing contamination of clothing or skin.
3. Stethoscope – The stethoscope is a vital instrument used for listening to sounds produced by the body. It is primarily used by a dialysis technician to listen to the blood flow in peripheral vessels, and breath sounds produced by the lungs. Stethoscopes can vary in design and material. All healthcare providers, including the dialysis technician, learn to use a stethoscope early in their careers. The dialysis technician normally auscultates for the bruit when caring for the dialysis access. The bruit is a continuous, soft, and low-pitched sound that you can hear with a stethoscope. If the sound becomes discontinuous, harsh, and high-pitched, the access may be abnormally constricting. Breath sounds, meanwhile, originate in the large airways where air produces vibrations in the airway walls, causing distinct sounds. Abnormalities heard during auscultation may imply either an accumulation of fluid secretions or inflammation in the pulmonary tissue. As long as the dialysis technician is equipped with a stethoscope, irregularities can be detected before it can cause any serious complications. 4. Watches – Dialysis technicians typically have extremely busy schedules and complex workloads. With multiple, contrasting needs from different patients, time management is an essence of proper care. To be accurate with patient scheduling, and loading times of heparin, a dialysis technician should be able to manage his time effectively. Without a watch, however, that can’t be possible. No day is ever the same in the dialysis center, and technicians should be prepared to handle their responsibilities and tasks successfully. Time management in dialysis is vital so technicians feel less stressed. A dialysis technician who feels less stress is much better able to take care of their patients, and, of course, themselves. 5. Closed Shoes – Non-slippery, closed-toed shoes should be worn at all times at work. Although not generally prohibited, the use of perforated shoes, sandals or cloth sneakers isn’t really desirable since fluid can still get into your socks, exposing you to possible health risks. Comfortable shoes, made of rubber, are most fitting since they don’t absorb dialysate chemicals, body fluids, and blood. Leather and canvas shoes tend to take in liquids.