The Great Challenge: Dialysis Staff Managing Difficult Patients

woman and doctor

More than two million people around the world receive regular dialysis treatment. This is a procedure that helps kidney patients filter their blood when their kidneys stop working how they are supposed to function. In seniors, dialysis can help in prolonging their life. Thankfully, many nursing homes now have partner hips to reliable institutions that offer services like inpatient dialysis billing, staffing coverage, training, and equipment.

But then, many dialysis patients exhibit different difficult behavior. This can include nonadherence, threatening acts, and abuse. Many dialysis staff members have a hard time providing optimum care when facing difficult dialysis patients.

Whenever a difficult dialysis patient comes in, this puts his care along with the staff and other patients’ safety at risk. This is especially true when a dialysis patient exhibits threatening acts or resorts to physical or verbal abuse. This is one reality many dialysis staff face daily.

There are many examples of difficult behavior exhibited by dialysis patients. Each has its own drawbacks. Here are common types of dialysis patients’ difficult behaviors.

doctor and patient


Patients often face emotional, financial, and medical challenges that urge them to think and act against the advice of their doctors. There are also times when dialysis patients fail to fully understand the consequences if they fail to start dialysis early. Others do not adhere to prescribed medication, don’t take lifestyle recommendations to heart, or skip dialysis treatment altogether.

There are times when a patient’s nonadherence is a result of one of the following reasons:

  • Cost
  • Mistrust
  • Feeling unwell
  • Lack of perceived benefit
  • Patient’s forgetfulness, depression, anxiety, or fear
  • Lack of communication between the patient and their healthcare provider or dialysis staff

Abusive Behavior

Some dialysis patients can be irrational to the point that they become verbally or physically abusive onsite. When Dialysis patients spill verbal abuse towards the staff or other patients, this can make the dialysis environment a lot more stressful. Any additional stress can put other dialysis patients’ safety and health at risk.

Dialysis staff can also become agitated and stressed out when handling difficult patients who turn to physical and verbal abuse. This is the most extreme type of difficult behavior that any patient can exhibit in the dialysis setting. When faced with a verbally or physically abusive dialysis patient, this makes it difficult for dialysis staff to provide optimum care to that patient and other patients present.

Missing/Retiring From Dialysis Early

When patients miss their dialysis treatments, this puts them at greater risk of building up dangerously high potassium levels. When this happens, they can end up having heart problems like irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and even death. Some dialysis patients would miss dialysis sessions due to financial issues, lack of perceived consequences of missed sessions, or because of minor illnesses like diarrhea.

Some find it hard to attend regular dialysis treatment because of their fear, forgetfulness, or confusion. Other times, patients choose to retire from dialysis earlier than advised. They believe that managing the effects of the treatment and attending dialysis sessions will put unnecessary stress on their already weakened state.

There are also times when patients who have failed transplants would refuse dialysis. They would instead invest in end-of-life care and enjoy their remaining days dialysis-free. Healthcare providers don’t have a choice but to honor their patients’ request to stop their treatment after citing the risks.

Socioeconomic Factors

There can also be other factors that make patients turn to difficult behaviors. For one, the high cost of dialysis treatment and a patient’s poor financial status can leave them with no choice but to delay, miss, or stop treatment altogether. Even if they know the consequences, failure to have access to regular dialysis treatment can put them at greater risk.

Other patients can’t grasp the seriousness of their condition. They may be content with knowing that a loved one or someone they know managed to live a fulfilling life sans dialysis. Lack of understanding can lead to them suffering more than necessary in the future.

Some dialysis patients also lack enough social support to motivate them to attend regular dialysis sessions. Kidney patients need a strong network to help them overcome the effects of dialysis. Without adequate social support, they might not have enough motivation to continue treatment.

These are but a few examples of difficult behaviors common in the dialysis setting. It may seem appalling, but such behaviors happen daily in many facilities. This proves that dialysis staff members deserve more considering the challenges they face when dealing with difficult patients.

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