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Complications of Hemodialysis: What Patients Need to Know

  • 3 min read

Hemodialysis is a life-saving treatment for patients with end-stage renal disease, but like any medical intervention, it is not without risks and complications. In this article, we will explore the common complications of hemodialysis, their causes, and what patients can do to minimize their risk.

  1. Infection: Infection is a common complication of hemodialysis, occurring in up to 90% of patients. Infections can occur at the site where the dialysis catheter is inserted or elsewhere in the body. Patients who have a central venous catheter are at higher risk of developing bloodstream infections.
  2. Low Blood Pressure: Hemodialysis treatment can cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. This can be a serious complication, especially if not addressed promptly.
  3. Muscle Cramps: Hemodialysis treatment can cause muscle cramps, which can be painful and uncomfortable for patients.
  4. Fluid Overload: Hemodialysis treatment can remove too much fluid from the body, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. This can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea.
  5. Hemorrhage: Hemodialysis treatment can cause bleeding complications, including hemorrhage, which can be life-threatening in severe cases.
  6. Dialysis Access Complications: The dialysis access site can become infected or develop other complications, such as thrombosis or stenosis, which can prevent adequate blood flow during treatment.
  7. Electrolyte Imbalances: Hemodialysis treatment can cause electrolyte imbalances, particularly with potassium and magnesium levels. This can lead to muscle cramps, heart arrhythmias, and other complications.
  8. Anemia: Hemodialysis patients may develop anemia due to decreased production of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production.
  9. Bone Disease: Hemodialysis patients are at risk of developing bone disease, including osteoporosis and osteitis fibrosa, which can lead to bone pain, fractures, and other complications.
  10. Depression and Mental Health Issues: The emotional burden of hemodialysis treatment can lead to depression and other mental health issues in some patients.

Causes of Complications

Some common causes of complications during hemodialysis include:

  1. Inadequate training or experience of healthcare providers
  2. Poor patient care or neglect
  3. Improper maintenance of dialysis equipment
  4. Failure to follow established protocols and guidelines
  5. Patient factors, such as older age, comorbidities, or poor health status

Minimizing the Risk of Complications

Patients undergoing hemodialysis can take steps to minimize their risk of complications:

  1. Ensure proper training and experience of healthcare providers
  2. Monitor their care and treatment closely
  3. Follow established protocols and guidelines
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise
  5. Address any comorbidities or other health issues promptly
  6. Keep the dialysis access site clean and well-maintained
  7. Monitor for signs of infection or other complications regularly

Hemodialysis is a life-saving treatment for patients with end-stage renal disease, but it carries risks and complications. Patients who undergo hemodialysis should be aware of the potential complications and take steps to minimize their risk. Healthcare providers must also ensure proper training, follow established protocols, and provide adequate care to patients during treatment. At the Law Office of Marc Walwyn, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help patients who have suffered complications during hemodialysis treatment. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.