I recently had a conversation with a Sacramento nurse about medical transportation, and she shared some troubling insight from her experiences in a local emergency room. While working in the ER, this particular nurse saw countless patients who were forced to come in as a result of skipping a regularly scheduled dialysis treatment. Often, the treatment had been missed due to a lack of transportation.
When a patient has kidney disease and the kidneys are no longer able to function adequately, dialysis can help keep the body in balance. If the kidneys fail and are unable to remove waste and excess fluid from the blood, dialysis takes over and performs the essential task of filtering and purifying the blood. Because the kidneys normally do this job 24 hours a day, dialysis is not an occasional treatment! It is normally done three times per week, and each treatment last three to four hours.
There are many dangers associated with skipping dialysis treatments. Risks consist of both short-term and long-term health effects. Consequences may include fluid overload, heart problems, and permanent damage to the body. Excess fluid can lead to shortness of breath from fluid buildup in the lungs. Cardiac complications include arrhythmia and heart attack. Stroke is also a concern. In addition, the next treatment following a missed appointment can be quite uncomfortable due to cramping and hypotension that result from the removal of extra fluid. Also, treatments often include injections, and missing these medications can worsen anemia and bone disease.
It is recommended that patients, even if they normally are able to drive, always secure an alternate form of transportation to and from dialysis treatments. The process can be extremely exhausting, and many patients experience cramping, bleeding, blurred vision, and fatigue after their appointment. This makes is very dangerous to drive, and highlights the importance of making sure to schedule a regular reliable ride to and from treatments, whether it be a friend, family member, or transportation service.
For more information on kidney disease, visit The National Kidney Foundation at https://www.kidney.org/