Reduce Travel Stress for Your Home Dialyzors
Helping patients live a full life, including travel for work or pleasure, is highly rewarding for dialysis staff and patients alike. Help your patients by making sure everyone knows how to plan a trip with dialysis the low stress way.
Educate your patients about travel starting in training and regularly afterwards. Be sure they know what you will do to help them and what they can do to help themselves. Information handoffs that fail and supplies that don’t arrive where they are supposed to are frustrating for you both.
You might consider writing a handout for their training manual that encourages your patients to let you know as soon as possible about their travel plans. When you educate them and create the handout, some things you will both need to consider include:
- Will the patient do home dialysis while traveling or in-center treatments? Each requires different arrangements—and a very different time frame.
- Will the treatment length or frequency be less? If so, the patient may need to switch to a standard in-center HD diet and fluid limits. Alert the dietitian and the patient! At least one patient has died on vacation when he ate his usual level of potassium, but got less treatment than he was used to.
- Will the patient travel outside the U.S.? Alert patients that Medicare won’t pay for in-center dialysis outside the U.S. or its territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and Saipan).
Below are some detailed questions that will arise.
If the patient plans to do home dialysis while traveling:
- Will the dialysis water and electrical needs be met by the travel site? If not, what sort of accommodations can be made? (Examples: CAPD vs. CCPD, bagged dialysate for a NxStage System One, a generator)
- Is any kind of accommodation needed for transportation or lodging? (Examples: assistance to make plane connections, handicap accessible hotel room, power strip, etc.)
- If taking or shipping home dialysis equipment and supplies:
- Is there a detailed checklist of supplies so nothing is left behind?
- If something is left behind or the patient has a problem, whom should s/he call?
- For plane travel, does the patient have the Department of Transportation guidance (see below) and a letter from the doctor confirming that supplies and equipment are medically necessary to avoid extra luggage costs?
- How far ahead must shipped supply orders be made?
- Who needs to order the supplies (patient or home training nurse)?
- What paperwork is required to place the order?
- Can an order be confirmed to track order receipt and supply delivery?
- Is there a storage cost at the travel location until arrival?
If the patient plans to do in-center dialysis while traveling:
- Does a nearby clinic have a treatment chair open? Planning months ahead—especially to hot travel spots or around holidays—and being flexible on dialysis days/times can free up more options. Clinic lists are available in several places (see list below) and some providers have national travel staff.
- Will the clinic follow the patient’s prescription and support self-cannulation?
- Does the clinic accept the patient’s insurance?
- What is the expected out-of-pocket cost for the clinic? For the doctor?
- Is pre-payment required?
- What paperwork is needed, who will send it, and what’s the deadline?
- Will the clinic at the destination confirm the reservation in writing?
- Is there any chance the clinic may cancel the reservation or change the scheduled day/time of dialysis?
Find a dialysis clinic:
- Dialysis Facility Compare
- DaVita Travel Support
- Fresenius Patient Travel Service
- Global Dialysis (international travel)
- Holiday Dialysis International
Booklets & fact sheets
- Just the Facts: Traveling on Dialysis
- Leaving on a Jet Plane: Flying with a PD Cycler or NxStage System One
- Travel Tips: A Guide for Kidney Patients
- Department of Transportation: Guidance on the Transport of Portable Dialysis Machines by Travelers with Disabilities
With a little upfront planning and education, you can help your patients feel this way:
Traveling with my NxStage machine takes a lot of diligent preparation and meticulous planning for my entire care team, but the end result is worth all of the work. Once I first traveled taking my own machine with me, I never wanted to travel and go in-center again. The flexibility of dialyzing when I want to and at the frequency my body has become accustomed to makes vacation feel like vacation again.
Charles D., home hemodialysis