What does a dialysis technician do?  A brief dialysis technician job description is provided here to aid in understanding that question.

Dialysis technicians assist people with kidney failure. Dialysis technicians work primarily in hospitals, outpatient clinics or in home dialysis settings. They may also have titles of dialysis tech, renal dialysis technician, hemodialysis technician, and nephrology technician.

They are the primary direct caregiver for patients undergoing dialysis treatment.  They work closely with, and under the direct supervision of, registered nurses or physicians and are important members of the patient care team.

Dialysis technicians typically have a number of roles. These may include dialyzer reprocessing, equipment maintenance and repair, water treatment monitoring, participation in quality improvement, vascular access monitoring, transporting and explaining the procedure to the patient. 

A brief dialysis technician job description includes preparing patients and operating equipment that performs the function of kidneys and  filters out waster and toxins from the blood.  They first prepare the patient by explaining the process and positioning the patient on a chair.   They typically then record vital statistics such as blood pressure, pulse rate, weight, temperature and respiration.

The dialysis tech next prepares the dialysis machine by making sure it is clean and sterile, prepare dialysis solutions.  The dialysis technician then connects the patient to the hemodialysis machine either in the patient's forearm or catheter site.  They start blood circulating through the dialyzer and monitor the machine and inspect equipment settings to make sure everything meets safety standards. The dialysis technician monitors the patient during the procedure, and prepares records after the procedure. 



A more exhaustive list of dialysis technician job duties and tasks from the National Kidney Foundation's Renal Career Fact sheet is given below:

  • Assembles necessary supplies
  • Prepares dialysate according to established procedures and the dialysis prescription
  • Assembles and prepares the dialysis extracorporeal circuit according to protocol and dialysis prescription.
  • Verifies absence of residual sterilants.
  • Tests monitors and machine functions, including alarms, conductivity and temperature. Sets monitors and alarms according to unit and manufacturer protocols.
  • Obtains and documents pre-dialysis vital signs, weight, and temperature.
  • Inspects a patient's dialysis access. Administers local anesthesia, inserts needles, and initiates dialysis according to unit protocol and patient prescription.
  • Documents treatment parameters and communicates patient condition and issues to Registered Nurse.
  • Administers anticoagulant according to unit protocols and prescription.
  • Measures and adjusts blood flow rates according to established protocols and prescription.

Additional dialysis technician responsibilities per the National KIdney Foundation Renal Career fact Sheet include:

  • Calculates and adjusts fluid removal rates according to established protocols and prescription.
  • Monitors patients and equipment, responds to alarms, and readjusts treatment parameters as defined by established protocols and individual patient requirements.
  • Changes fluid removal rate and patient position, and administers replacement saline as directed by the registered nurse, physician order, or unit protocol.
  • Responds appropriately to dialysis-related emergencies such as hypotensive episodes, needle displacement or infiltration, clotting episodes, blood leaks, air emboli, etc. Initiates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a cardiac arrest.
  • Discontinues dialysis and establishes hemostasis following unit protocol. Inspects, cleans, and dresses access according to unit protocol.
  • Obtains and records post-dialysis vital signs, temperature, and weight.
  • Discards dialysis supplies and sanitizes equipment according to manufacturer and unit protocol.
  • Communicates emotional, medical, psychosocial, and nutritional concerns to the registered nurse.
  • Maintains professional conduct, good communication skills, and confidentiality in the care of patients. Participates in the multidisciplinary process.
  • Collaborates with the registered nurse in identifying and meeting patient education goals.

 To understand more about the  dialysis  process itself visit the Dialysis Definition page.

Information on this page summarized from:
(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm
(2) Wikipedia contributors, "Dialysis," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialysis
 (3) Renal Career Fact Sheet, National Kidney Foundation,https://www.kidney.org/professionals/CNNT/techcnntmage credit: Licensed from Fotolia

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