Only 56% Of Dialysis Technicians Pass New Skills Test

Almost half of the dialysis technicians in California are failing a new Federally-mandated skills test, throwing the industry’s tarnished reputation under the magnifying glass once again.

ProPublica detailed some of the problems happening at some “dialysis mills” where patients are treated like cattle:

Although some clinics are orderly and expert – attentive not only to patients’ health, but also to their dignity – others are run like factories, turning over three shifts of patients a day, sometimes four. Safety experts say technicians shouldn’t monitor more than four patients at once, but some operators save money by stretching them further. The pace can be so intense, inspections show, that clinics have allowed patients to soil themselves rather than interrupt dialysis for a bathroom break. One technician said he quit his job at a large Colorado clinic because he often had to juggle six patients or more. “The last two years, I was just getting old,” he said.

Why are so many technicians failing? “A lot of people who have been in dialysis for years and years are not able to pass the test,” Mimi Eckert, executive director of the National Nephrology Certification Organization said in an interview. “It’s not because they’re not good people, but they have been taught in a small dialysis environment and have learned by doing, as opposed to knowing some of the vocabulary.”

Thanks, I’d rather my kidney pumper know the lingo and not just get by on on-the-job training.

Non-profit dialysis centers have lower mortality rates than for profit ones, according to government data. This new database lets you look up a clinic’s survival rate information, an important “know before you go” tool you should use before choosing a facility.

Nearly half of dialysis technicians failing skills test [California Watch]

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Database Shows How Likely It Is You Will Die At A Dialysis Clinic
For-Profit Dialysis Centers Have Higher Mortality Rates, Up To 24%
Why Does US Have Worst Fatality Rate From Kidney Dialysis?

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  1. ARP says:

    You mean health care providers using poorly qualfied persons to provide medical care to maximize profits? Shocking.

  2. PacoHertez says:

    My mother has been on Dialysis for a few years now, I never realized how bad it was until a couple of weeks ago where the center she used completely failed to monitor her and she almost bled out.
    A few minutes after she was connected to the machine, she went to sleep and woke up 1 1/2 hours later soaked in blood with a pool of blood at her feet with a technician freaking out. If the technician hadnt seen the pool of blood at her feed she would have never woken up, I’m amazed at how bad these places are, and the worst part is…there arent many choices :

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I briefly dated a dialysis technician. Afterwards, I feared for dialysis patients. It would seem that my experience was rather average…

  4. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    Once again the profit motive reduces the quality of American health care. When are we going to figure this out?

  5. danic512 says:

    Thank god for journalism sites like ProPublica.

  6. remusrm says:

    My mom used to be a boss in this field and she always fired people for this. They just know to do the same thing over and over, if something new comes out, they fail totally. One tech did not check the bleach content in one of purification chambers and almost killed everyone that day..

  7. TheWraithL98 says:

    my brother was on dialysis for a year and the technicians were absolutely horrible. they were supposed to remove fluid until he got down to his “dry weight”, but the dry weight was never reevaluated at all, so if he ate a big meal the day before, he’d leave dialysis virtually on his deathbed as they took too much fluid. they also made a giant mess of his arms, he was constantly torn to shreds by them putting the needles in him, and most of the techs were uncompassionate pricks, obviously just there to collect a paycheck and not at all concerned about the well being or comfort of the patients.

  8. plumbob says:

    Why does this particular part of the medical industry have such a problem with killing off it’s patients? Is there no certification or training process for the technicians… At least in a nursing home you can count on the people having a few weeks of classroom and clinical training even if they don’t hold a degree. At least thats the case in my state.

    • hansolo247 says:

      Patients not caring for themselves is the #1 cause of death.

      And, as a former dialysis patient, I can confirm this. It’s a hard life, but even harder to do what you need to do.

  9. jojostix says:

    Does anyone know an easy way to look up what the percenatge of personal is who have passed the test at a particular clinic? My grandmother just started dialysis in Nor Cal last month.

  10. hansolo247 says:

    I was on dialysis for 6 years.

    Patient empowerment is key. KNOW what they are doing, and watch. Even the best person may make a small mistake here and there.

    I went to a nonprofit center, and the staff there were absolutely excellent. I know for a fact they had a very high pass rate on this test, too (as they would be fired if they failed).

    Dialysis has a high mortality rate. That’s absolutely unavoidable. The quality of care is only one variable. You also have to consider that most people on dialysis take absolutely horrible care of themselves.

    When traveling, I visited for-profit centers. Night and day.

  11. Boberto says:

    In California, this pass rate is more an indictment of poor verbal, written skills as related to English as the non primary language. These are people with strong core values, very hardworking, honorable and reliable. Poor test takers, though I’m afraid. The rate of success is not enhanced in any way, by the fact these folks endure the added pressure of financial ruin, should they fail the test.
    Not only is their job on the line, but also the cost of the test itself is held out for reimbursement, only if they pass. Fail the test, and you’re out of a job and the testing fee.

    It’s an inordinate amount of pressure for anyone to go through. And by the way, I’ll also add that if these folks were great test takers who excelled academically (in any way), they would most not likely be in this line of work.

    It doesn’t mean they’re not smart, capable or industrious. It also doesn’t mean they can’t ever pass the test, but may require investment in training and education.

    The Duopoly of the for profits (FMC and Davita) has yet to provide the training.