Meet your care team
Nephrologist: A doctor who works with people with kidney problems.
Kidney educator: A trained professional, often a social worker, who teaches patients about kidney disease and dialysis treatments.
Nurse: A trained medical professional who will assist in your care and dialysis treatment.
Patient care technician (PCT): A health care worker trained to give care during hemodialysis (HD) treatments.
Dietitian: A trained professional who gives information on what to eat and drink to maintain a healthier life.
Social worker: A trained professional who gives all levels of support, including educational and emotional, to patients before and after beginning dialysis.
Peer mentor: A kidney patient who has been trained to support other patients.
People on in-center HD regularly see many members of this health care team when they go to dialysis.
People on peritoneal dialysis (PD) are responsible for their daily care and see their health care team once or twice a month when they go to their dialysis center. This doesn't mean they are alone! Family members of people on PD may assist them with their daily care, and a member of the health care team will always be available by phone.
Talking with your care team
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when you meet with your health care team:
This website was developed by patients, family members, and professionals who are committed to empowering people just like you facing the decision of what type of dialysis to start. We are a group of people with a wide range of backgrounds. Some of us are patients, just like you, and some of us are social workers, researchers, and doctors representing Arbor Research Collaborative for Health; the University of Michigan; and Greenfield Health Systems, a division of the Henry Ford Health System.
As a team, we have gathered information from over 180 people who are currently living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or who are on hemodialysis (HD) or peritoneal dialysis (PD). The people who took part in our research provided helpful information, like what it feels like to be on dialysis on a daily basis, concerns of being on dialysis, quality of life on dialysis, and things they wish they would have known before starting dialysis.
It is our goal to give you the information you need to make a decision, as well as to share other patients’ experiences, to help you make the choice that’s best for you. Your role in this decision is very important, and we want you to feel comfortable being involved in the decision as much as you want.
Advanced Kidney Disease: A term sometimes used to describe kidney failure.
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD): Peritoneal dialysis that uses a machine, called a cycler, to fill the belly with dialysate, and then drains dialysate and wastes out of the belly. Catheter (Hemodialysis): A plastic tube that is placed in the neck and is inserted into a large vein to take blood in and out of the body.
Catheter (Hemodialysis): A plastic tube that is placed in the neck and is inserted into a large vein to take blood in and out of the body.
Catheter (Peritoneal Dialysis): A plastic tube that is used to put dialysate fluid into the belly and to take the fluid, along with wastes, out of the body. One end is inserted under the skin into the belly (peritoneum), while the other end sticks out from the skin, usually below the belly button.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): A long-term condition when the kidneys do not work properly.
Conservative Management: Supportive care for advanced chronic kidney disease that includes medications and diet restrictions without dialysis.
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): Peritoneal dialysis in which the patient connects to bags of dialysate fluid and uses only gravity, not a machine, to fill the belly (peritoneum) with dialysate fluid, and drain the fluid along with wastes.
Creatinine: A product of muscle metabolism that is normally eliminated by the kidneys. Creatinine levels in the blood are used to estimate kidney function.
Cycler: A machine used during Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) to put dialysate into the belly and drain the fluid, along with wastes, out of the belly.
Dialysate: A fluid used in dialysis to draw fluids and toxins out of the bloodstream and supply electrolytes and other chemicals.
Dialysis: A treatment that can remove waste and excess fluid from the body.
Dialysis Nurse: A trained medical professional who will assist in your care and dialysis treatment.
End-stage renal disease (ESRD): A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called kidney failure.
Fistula: An access site to the bloodstream used in hemodialysis to take blood out and put it back into the body; usually placed in the arm.
Glomerular Filtration Rate: A test that measures the function of kidneys. This is based on creatinine levels, age, weight, and sex.
Graft: An access site to the bloodstream used in hemodialysis to take blood out and put it back into the body; usually placed in the arm.
Hemodialysis: A type of dialysis that uses a machine to take blood out of the body, filter it, and put it back in; it is usually done at a specialized center.
Home Hemodialysis: Hemodialysis that is done at home, in which the patient provides his/her own treatment.
In-Center HD: Hemodialysis that is done in a specialized clinic, called a dialysis center.
Kidneys: Internal organs that clean the blood and produce urine.
Kidney Disease: A condition when the kidneys do not work properly.
Kidney Failure: A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called renal failure.
Kidney Transplant: A surgical operation in which a healthy kidney donated by another person is placed into the body of person with kidney failure.
Nephrologist: A doctor who works with people with kidney problems
Patient Care Technician (PCT): A health care worker trained to give care during hemodialysis treatments.
PD Exchange: The process in which sterile fluid called dialysate is put into and removed from the belly.
Peer Mentor: A kidney patient who has been trained to support other patients.
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD): A type of dialysis that uses the membrane that lines the inside of the belly (peritoneum) to purify the blood from wastes; it is usually done at home. There are two types of PD: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (see definitions).
Peritoneum: Membrane that lines the inside of the belly.
Renal Failure: A condition in which the kidneys have stopped working. Also called kidney failure.
Social Worker: A trained professional who gives all levels of support, including educational and emotional, to patients before and after beginning dialysis.
Waste Products: Products of metabolism (urea, creatinine, uric acid), that are removed from the body by healthy kidneys.
Are you looking for more information about dialysis? You may want to visit these websites: