Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients realize that they are at a higher risk of having to visit the Emergency Room. However, most do not recognize that Dialysis patients are surprisingly six (6) times more likely to find themselves in the Emergency Room than the average adult in the United States, the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine researchers reported. Almost half of Emergency Department visits by Dialysis patients resulted in hospital admissions—a rate 4 times higher than the national average. It's even more startling to learn that Hemodialysis Access complications are one of the top reasons for hospital admissions for Dialysis patients (12.6%). Equally as shocking are the risks associated with these increased hospitalizations.
Beyond the fact that Emergency Room visits and Hospital Admissions can be a big hassle for patients (transportation to and from the hospital, cost of admission, time away from loved ones) it comes with a lot of risks including picking up infections while in the hospital (1 in 25 patients end up with Hospital-Acquired Infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) which may lead to further complications or even in some cases death (about 75,000 patients with Hospital-Acquired Infections died during hospitalizations, noted the CDC). Hence, the following tips can help patients better preserve their Hemodialysis AV Fistula and reduce their risk of Emergency Room visits and Hospital Admissions:
1.) The pillow tactic: Dialysis patients should attempt to avoid sleeping on their "Lifeline" (Dialysis Access Arm). Strategically placed pillows can help. Try placing a pillow under each arm, one under the knees for lower back support, and one on each side of the torso. The pillows will serve almost like bumpers, to keep Dialysis patients in place and help prevent them from rolling over on their Dialysis Arms.
2.) Avoid the cuff and stick: Do not allow IVs, blood pressure cuffs or blood draws done on your Access Arm. Protect your arm from injury by ordering your No BP/No Stick Fistula Protector Wristband (click here). This protective band is specifically tailored for Dialysis patients and is nationally recognized by Healthcare Professionals to help avoid misuse and damage of a patient's Dialysis AV Fistula. If you have a Fistula or Graft in your arm, then you should order your band today - it's a no-brainer.
3.) Keep the skin over your access clean: Try to avoid touching your Dialysis Arm throughout the day unless you have washed your hands. Consider periodically wiping your AV Fistula with alcohol to keep it as sterile as possible. Also, try and remember to inspect the skin over your access. Changes in skin color, swelling, redness and enlarging bumps are not normal. Allow scabs over previous cannulation sites to completely heal and attempt not to disturb them.
4.) Be on the look out!: Remember to always give careful attention to your general health. Experiencing fever or chills are tell-tale signs of an infection. An infection can also cause changes in the appearance or feel of your access. Redness, draining pus, swelling or localized pain around the site of your access, or even inside your access, can be signs of infection.
You can run your hand gently across your Dialysis access. You will feel a distinct buzzing known as a “thrill.” The thrill should be strongest at the incision line and should gradually fade as you move your hand up. If you have a fistula, it should feel soft and can be compressed easily. If you have a graft, it will feel firm and tube-like.
How do you preserve your AV Fistula and avoid the Emergency Room? Feel free to leave a comment and share at the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page which has over 46,000 Friends (click here). Also, visit KidneyBuzz.com daily for the latest breaking news, information, Daily Impact Meal, Inspirational Quotes, Products and Services which teach those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.