Starting Outpatient Hemodialysis
You likely have many questions about starting hemodialysis. This handout will explain what to
expect on your first day at the clinic.
Your schedule is listed at the end of this handout.
ξ On your first day, arrive 30 minutes in advance because you will need to sign a number
of consent forms and other papers.
ξ You need to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your “start time” for each treatment to
allow time for staff to get you on the machine.
The staff will explain the machines and all that you need to know in the first 2 weeks. Bring
someone with you for support and to help you talk through and sort out all you will learn. Your
family or friends may also want to come just to know more about your treatments.
Insurance Cards and I.D.
On your first day, please stop at the front desk and give your name. Make sure you have the
ξ Insurance cards
ξ Medicare, HMO, Medical Assistance, and private insurance
ξ Social Security card
The staff will make copies and return to you.
Bring a blanket if you want. Many patients feel a little chilly during their dialysis treatments.
The blanket should be washable. Some clinics provide blankets to you.
Wear clothing that allows your catheter, fistula, or graft to be seen at all times during the
treatment. You may need to buy one or two clothing items for treatments if you don’t have
something that works. All of the clothing you wear should be washable.
ξ If your access is in your arm, wear short sleeves or roll-up sleeves.
ξ If your access is in your neck or chest, wear a button-down or a V-neck shirt.
Most clinics will not allow eating and drinking during treatments. Some clinics will provide ice
chips and water. Please eat more than one hour before coming to dialysis or eat after you leave.
You may have a drop in blood pressure if you eat during the treatment.
If You Need Help Getting In and Out of Your Seat
If you need help getting in and out of a car, bring someone to help you. The staff cannot leave
the clinic to help you in the parking lot. They will help you while you are in the clinic.
If you are planning to drive yourself to the clinic, have someone else drive you the first 1-2
weeks. Your body needs time to adjust to the treatments. You may feel a little unsteady the first
few times you have dialysis.
Transportation and Back-up Plan
You need to be able to count on a ride to treatments. Think about having a back-up plan in place
in case your plans fall through. Many people find if useful to sign up with a driving service or
volunteer program to get to treatments. Your social worker can help you with this.
You will have a social worker that will be present to help you while you are a patient at the
dialysis clinic. The social worker can help you and your family with many issues (i.e. rides to
and from dialysis, Medicare enrollment, coping with chronic dialysis, home care needs,
accessing community resources) that come up while making the changes in your life required by
dialysis. If you have questions, you can ask to talk to the social worker when you first start.
600 Highland Avenue - C53
Madison, WI 53792-5745
If you have questions about your new outpatient dialysis unit, call your assigned dialysis clinic
listed on the next page.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 1/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#6435.
My Dialysis Clinic
1. Name of Dialysis Clinic: ___________________________________________________
2. Address: _______________________________________________________________
3. Phone Number: __________________________________________________________
4. Directions to Dialysis Clinic:
5. Does the dialysis clinic allow patients to eat and drink during treatments?
6. Name of Social Worker: ___________________________________________________
My Dialysis Schedule
1. Days (circle): Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
2. Treatment time: ________________________________
3. The first day: Arrive at __________ and leave at __________
4. After the first day: Arrive at __________ and leave at __________
If you have further questions about your first day at outpatient dialysis, feel free to call the clinic
before you start your first treatment.