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Sensing Savvy

Why Your Dialysis Clinic Needs a Vascular Access Coordinator

Posted by Deborah Brouwer-Maier RN, CNN on Feb 6, 2017 6:30:00 AM

woman-doctor-writing.jpgOften referred to as the Achilles heel of hemodialysis, the vascular access is the lifeline of the patient — successful hemodialysis depends on it.

When an access fails, serious complications can occur. The patient is at risk for infection, sepsis — even death. For a dialysis clinic, these patient complications can result in missed appointments, delayed scheduling and surgery cancellations, which can hurt a clinic’s bottom line.

For many clinics, continuity of care is a major concern.

What if one new hire could help ensure continuity of care and address access issues before they occur?

The role of the vascular access coordinator

While fairly new, the vascular access coordinator position is gaining popularity among dialysis clinics.

The person filling this role can do the following:

  • Help your clinic improve quality of care
  • Help improve patient flow
  • Address access issues before your patients miss treatments

This person focuses on the vascular access needs of patients. In addition to the items above, a vascular access coordinator can help your clinic by:

  • Improving patient outcomes
  • Reducing the cost of vascular interventions
  • Saving nephrologists and staff time by ensuring the access is healthy and functioning
  • Improving communication among all levels of dialysis staff

Does my clinic need a vascular access coordinator?

If your clinic is experiencing these issues, a vascular access coordinator may be able to help alleviate:

  • Increased access complication rates
  • Lack of accountability for access monitoring
  • Staff communication issues

Who should perform the role?

Because the vascular access role is so new and clinics or programs have varying needs for a coordinator to address, there is no “standard” candidate for the role. You can still fill the role even if your clinic cannot make new hires.

Coordinator roles have been filled by dialysis technicians, nurses and in some cases nephrology social workers or dietitians. Whether it’s someone new or an existing staff member filling the role, a successful candidate should:

  • Be an experienced hemodialysis healthcare worker (nurse, nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, dialysis technician and in some cases a renal dietitian or nephrology social worker)
  • Have the necessary certifications in hemodialysis or nephrology
  • Be proficient in vascular access care and management and is committed to quality assessment and performance improvement

It doesn’t take a big financial investment to make lasting improvements to communication and patient care in your facility. Whether you choose to hire from outside your organization or one of your staff members wants to take on the role, a vascular access coordinator can help bring continuity to how your facility operates and the care your patients receive.

Day in the Life of a Vascular Access Coordinator

Topics: Hemodialysis