Traveling on Dialysis

traveling

Being on dialysis does not mean you’re trapped. As new treatment facilities pop up across the globe and dialysis equipment becomes more portable, the travel opportunities for people with kidney disease has grown.

There are some limitations based on insurance coverage, which vary by patient, but most of our patients are able to travel, even on a regular basis, and receive treatments at their destination.

We also gladly welcome visitors from across the U.S. to our dialysis centers here in the greater Puget Sound region.

>     Read more about our visitor dialysis services

 

Your travel options

If you’re traveling outside your local area, it’s important to maintain your dialysis schedule just as you would at home. You have two main treatment options:

1. Arrange dialysis in a center at your destination.
If you typically visit a center for your dialysis treatments, visiting a dialysis center at your destination will likely be the best way for you to dialyze while traveling. Visitor dialysis is also a good option for peritoneal and home hemodialysis patients who don’t want to coordinate packing or shipping their dialysis machine, dialysis fluid and other supplies.

The number of dialysis centers around the world continues to grow, and it’s never been easier to find a quality treatment facility that welcomes to visitors. Certain destinations, including Los Angeles and Hawaii, have centers dedicated solely to visitors.

As a patient of Puget Sound Kidney Centers, we will help you coordinate any business travel or vacation plans you have. You can also use the following online search tools to find a dialysis center at your destination:

 

2. Take your portable dialysis machine with you.
If you currently do hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis at home, then it’s possible to pack your equipment and take it with you to your destination. Since you aren’t tied to as rigid a schedule as in-center dialysis patients, you’re free to dialyze whenever and wherever in the world you wish to go, as long as you’re able to make the necessary arrangements.

Traveling on dialysis:
what to pack

In-center dialysis patients

Pack the following items in your hand luggage:

  • Medications – enough to last your whole visit
  • Your doctor’s contact details
  • Contact details for the dialysis center you’re visiting
  • A copy of your medical records
  • Healthy, low-salt snacks

 

Peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis patients

Pack the following items in your hand luggage:

  • Medications – enough to last your whole visit
  • Your doctor’s contact details
  • Details of a dialysis center at your destination (just in case)
  • A copy of your medical records
  • Healthy, low-salt snacks

Pack the following items in your checked luggage or ship them to your destination in advance:

  • Dialysis fluid
  • Dialysis machine
  • Any additional dialysis supplies you need to administer your treatments safely (alcohol, wipes, gloves, scissors, sterile drapes, etc.)

Your pre-travel checklist

If you’re an in-center dialysis patient:

  • Speak to your PSKC social worker and your doctor well in advance of your departure date, ideally before you book any flights or accommodation. If possible, do this at least eight weeks before you plan to travel. 
  • Research dialysis centers at your destination. If you have any questions or would like a recommendation, we’re here to provide the guidance you need. 
  • Call the dialysis center you’ve selected at your destination, schedule your appointments and complete any paperwork required. Be sure to let us know about your plans so we can send a copy of your most recent medical records to the dialysis facility. You should also carry a copy of your medical records with you during your trip.
  • If you’re flying or taking a train to your destination, call ahead to request the low-salt meal option. Also, make sure your hotel has healthy food options in its restaurant or within walking distance.

If you’re a peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis patient:

  • Speak to your PSKC social worker and your doctor well in advance of your travels. If it’s your first time traveling while being on dialysis, discuss your plans with them at least eight weeks before your departure date. 
  • Arrange to have your dialysis supplies (dialysis fluid, for example) delivered to your destination if your luggage allowance is limited.
  • Contact a dialysis center at your destination and ask to use their services as backup should any problems arise with your equipment or you require emergency care. Jot down the center’s contact details and kept them in your wallet or purse.
  • Call us to order copies of your medical records to carry with you during your travels. We can also send your ‘backup’ dialysis center your records in case you end up requiring their services.
  • If you’re flying or taking a train to your destination, call ahead to request the low-salt meal option. It’s also a good idea to choose a hotel that has healthy food options in its restaurant or within walking distance.

Answers to your travel questions

Will my insurance pay for visitor dialysis treatments when I travel?

Insurance coverage for visitor dialysis varies depending on your provider and travel destination.

If Medicare is your primary provider:

Is it OK to travel if I’m on the waiting list for a transplant?

As long as your doctor and transplant coordinator give you the go-ahead, you can still travel while on the transplant waiting list. They’ll want to ensure you could return with enough time should a transplant opportunity arise. If you’re traveling a long distance, your status on the waiting list may be put on ‘hold’ until you return.

I must travel somewhere urgently—how can I make last-minute plans?

We understand that certain circumstances may require you to travel at short notice. As soon as you know your travel dates, contact your social worker for help arranging visitor dialysis in a treatment center at your destination. There’s no guarantee that a center will be able to treat you, but we’ll do our best to help you figure out a solution.

What should I do if I feel ill while traveling?

If you’ve scheduled visitor dialysis in a center at your destination, call the center right way. Your temporary doctor will be able to arrange urgent care for you in the center or in a hospital, if needed.

If you’re a peritoneal or home hemodialysis patient, make sure to jot down contact information for a dialysis center at your destination in advance of your trip. Call the center before you go and arrange to use their services as backup or in case of emergencies. That way, if you start to feel sick during your travels, you can call the center right away and get the care you need.

How can I be sure my temporary dialysis center will provide high-quality care?

The best way to ensure you’ll receive high-quality care is to do thorough research on dialysis facilities at your destination well in advance of your travels.

Use Medicare’s Dialysis Facility Compare search tool to find and compare facilities at your destination. Each center has a star rating, lists the number of dialysis stations and provides details on shift options. Use this information to make an informed decision about which facility to choose, and be sure to call the center with any questions.

We’re also on hand to provide recommendations and answer any questions you have.

Visiting Puget Sound Kidney Centers for dialysis

If you’re from out of the area and are planning a visit to Snohomish, Skagit and Island Counties in Washington State, don’t hesitate to get in touch and arrange visitor dialysis treatments. We accept visitors from all over the United States.

We’re dedicated to making your visit as enjoyable as possible. In fact, we recently opened a facility in Anacortes, just a short ferry ride from the San Juan Islands, one of Washington State’s most beautiful destinations.

Call us at 425-259-2036 to arrange a visitor appointment. You will be routed to the center of your choice.