How can Kidney Patients get their Patient Care Technician's (PCT) attention during Dialysis

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Dialysis care requires a team-based model where not only a doctor takes care of a patient, but also nurses, patient care technicians (PCT), social workers, and dietitians. So, instead of only building a good relationship with your doctor, it is as important to build an equally strong relationship with your PCT in order to ensure long term dialysis success.

Your PCTs are very popular people! With fewer Medicare dollars comes more Dialysis Patients per shift and smaller PCT to patient ratios. In fact, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not regulate this ratio, and some states say one PCT is needed for every four Dialysis Patients. That is why interviewed a few PCTs to come up with some right and wrong ways that Dialysis Patients get their attention.

Right: Be aware


A veteran PCT told that the best way for a Dialysis Patient to get a PCT's attention is to be aware of what s/he is doing at the time. He said, "If I am helping another patient or appear to be busy the others should wait patiently, and I will be more than willing to assist them when I am finished. But, they have to understand that I have many patients, and duties that I have to deal with at the same time."

Wrong: Keep your hands to yourself


You should not poke a PCT in the chest or tap him/her on the shoulder (and worst yet, on the backside) to get their attention. Can you imagine if you were in the middle of taking off or putting on a patient, and another taps you on the shoulder, simply to hand you a slip of paper with their dry weight? Believe it or not, this happens frequently. The solution is to wait until the PCT is finished working with that patient to provide your dry weight or advise an available technician/nurse. However, by no means should the PCT be interrupted while s/he is working with another patient.

Wrong: Misusing the call button


The use of the call button is like nails on a chalk board because it is so often abused. Use it when it is something urgent. The request that the PCT may be fulfilling at the moment naturally comes before yours. Ringing the call button or shouting their names to throw away your trash or pick-up something that you may have dropped on the floor will probably get you the response, "I will be right there." Which in PCT speak means, "I will be right there in about a half an hour to throw away your trash." In other words call the PCT for urgent situations unless they are not doing their jobs and just walking around the clinic aimlessly.

Right: Be polite


It might surprise you to hear that many patients do not say "Please" or "Thank you." Being polite will get you every reasonable thing you want as quickly as possible. Another PCT told, "I assume people would like to be treated with respect, and so would I. It's all about how you ask. 'Please', 'thank you', and 'may I' will get you everything you want, as with everywhere in life." He admits that when dialysis patients are polite, he always acknowledges them and lets them know he will assist them as soon as he is able.

Wrong: Bathroom invaders


Sitting in one place can become uncomfortable, and you may want to stretch your legs by standing up and walking, so you ask to go to the bathroom. First, this may stop someone who really needs to use the restroom, which may create an unintentional problem for your PCT, but the more immediate problem is having to take you off, and put you back on during your scheduled treatment. Of course going to the bathroom is okay if you need to, but be respectful of the work they are already doing and do not unnecessarily add to it.       

With only as little as one PCT for every four patients to tend to every alarm, put on and take off patients, and attend to their special requests during your treatment it is in your interest to be aware of the right and wrong ways to get your PCT's attention. Hopefully, this will help you build a more positive and lasting relationship with your PCT and enhance your success while on dialysis.


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