How to Travel While on Dialysis

The following guidelines may be helpful for all kidney patients, including pre-dialysis patients and transplant patients wishing to travel while on dialysis.


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    Talk to your unit before doing anything (there will often be a person who specializes in transient dialysis). You will need a letter from them confirming you are fit to travel in order to obtain holiday insurance, and their advice regarding immunisation. If you are on dialysis you will need help in planning your treatment while on holiday. You should start planning at least six to eight weeks in advance, more if you're going to a popular destination.
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    Choose your destination. Whatever your treatment, it makes sense to ensure you are within reasonable reach of medical support in case of emergencies.
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    Choose your accommodation. Check that the accommodation you are considering is suitable for you and any special requirements that you may have. For example, if it is a hotel, do they cater for special diets?
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    Write to the chosen hospital (where you will be getting your dialysis overseas), and ask for the following information:
    • Do they accept visitors?
    • Specify the date you would like to go.
    • (If in the European Union) Are they a state run hospital or a private clinic?
    • Will there be a charge? If so, how much per dialysis session?
    • Do they accept form E111 for dialysis?
    • Do they accept patients who have tested positive for Hepatitis, HIV or Aids? (It is not recommended that you dialyze in a unit which accepts these patients. All dialysis units in the United States accept such patients because it is illegal not to.)
    • If you are satisfied with the answers and wish to proceed, then ask your renal consultant to make the necessary arrangements. The receiving hospital will require medical details and there is a standard form E111D which should be completed by your hospital doctor. Some units have their own form instead of E111D.
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    Some insurance companies will have you pay the foreign dialysis facility yourself, and then the insurance company will reimburse you.


  • Canadian dialysis patients can have part of their dialysis cost paid.
  • If Medicare is your primary insurance coverage, Medicare will pay for 80 percent of your treatment costs within the U.S. and its territories. You will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent not covered by Medicare. If you have secondary insurance, it may cover this 20 percent. However, you may have to pay this 20 percent "up front" and bill your insurance later. Check with the transient center about their policy on this. Most state Medicaid programs will not pay for treatment outside of your home state. If you have commercial insurance as your primary insurance, you may need to request a letter from your insurance company stating they will pay for your treatment at the transient dialysis center. Some commercial insurance will pay for dialysis outside of the U.S. Transient dialysis centers will often call and verify this coverage themselves. Be sure to allow enough planning time to make these arrangements. A doctor's fee may also be charged by the transient dialysis center. Be sure to ask what portion of this charge will be your responsibility.
  • Other questions you may want to ask the unit where you are traveling, in order to determine if you want to go there:
    • Does the center reuse dialyzers?
    • Does the center reuse bloodlines?
    • What is the average treatment length of dialysis at the center?
    • Can they provide the treatment time your doctor has prescribed?
    • What are the hours and days of operation? Traveling patients often are placed on an evening shift, which could end as early as 7:30 p.m. or as late as 2:00 a.m.
    • What types of dialyzers are used?
    • Can you use the same type of dialyzer you use at your home center?
    • What types of dialysis machine does the center have (conventional, high flux capability)?
    • Does the center routinely provide Lidocaine?
    • Are patients permitted to eat or drink while on dialysis?
    • Is an ice machine available for patients?
    • Is public transportation available to get to the center?
    • How many patients are assigned to each nurse or patient care technician?
    • Can you get all the medications you get at your home center during dialysis?

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Categories: Travel Health | Urinary Health