The job description of a dialysis technician encompasses many responsibilities but can be summed up as a specialist who cares for a patient from start to finish during the dialysis procedure.

A dialysis technician’s typical responsibilities include setting up the hemodialysis machine and attaching the dialyzer and tubing to the machine in order to assemble it for use. Then the technician mixes the dialysate and primes the dialyzer with a saline or heparinized (a complex organic acid) solution to prepare the machine. 

What do dialysis technicians do?

Once the machine is properly set up, the dialysis technician transports the patient to the dialysis room and positions them on the lounge chair at the hemodialysis machine. The patient’s predialysis weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate are recorded, and the dialysis procedure and operation of the hemodialysis machine are explained to the patient before starting the treatment in order  to allay any anxieties. The dialysis technician cleans the access area on the patient (usually the arm) using an antiseptic solution and inserts a small needle with tubes attached to the end. For the procedure to be carried out correctly, the technician must calculate the amount of  fluid to be removed and replacement during the dialysis procedure.

The hemodialysis machine is then connected to the access in the patient’s forearm or catheter site to start blood circulating through the dialyzer, making sure the blood flows at the prescribed rate. During the procedure, it is the duty of the dialysis tech to inspect the equipment settings – including pressures, conductivity, and temperature to ensure conformance to safety standards – as well as inspect venous and arterial pressures as registered on equipment to ensure pressures are within established limits. They also watch the patient closely, monitoring them for any adverse reactions and monitor the hemodialysis machine for malfunction. Upon completion of dialysis the technician records the patient’s postdialysis weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate. After ensuring the patient feels well, the technician escorts them from the dialysis room, usually to a family member or friend who accompanied the patient.

In addition to patient care, dialysis technicians are occasionally asked to fabricate some of the parts that are used throughout the dialysis process.  These parts include cannulas, tubing, catheters, connectors, and fittings, and are fabricated using handtools.

Summary

What do dialysis technicians do? Their main responsibilities include:

  1. Setting up the hemodialysis machine to provide dialysis treatment for patients with kidney failure.

  2. Attaching dialyzer and tubing to machine on order to assemble for use.

  3. Mixing dialysate

  4. Priming dialyzer with saline or heparinized solution to prepare machine for use.

  5. Transporting patients to dialysis room and positioning them on lounge chair at hemodialysis machine.

  6. Recording patient’s predialysis weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate.

  7. Explaining dialysis procedure and operation of hemodialysis machine to patient before treatment to allay anxieties.

  8. Cleaning area of access, using antiseptic solution.

  9. Connecting hemodialysis machine to access in patient’s forearm or catheter site to start blood circulating through dialyzer.

  10. Inspecting equipment settings, including pressures, conductivity, and temperature to ensure conformance to safety standards.

  11. Starting blood flow pump at prescribed rate.

  12. Inspecting venous and arterial pressures as registered on equipment to ensure pressures are within established limits.

  13. Calculating fluid removal or replacement to be achieved during dialysis procedure.

  14. Monitoring patient for adverse reaction and hemodialysis machine for malfunction.

  15. Recording patient’s postdialysis weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate.

  16. Fabricating parts, such as cannulas, tubing, catheters, connectors, and fittings, using handtools.