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Dialysis Access Malfunction Warning Signs

Your dialysis access is your Lifeline. Successful dialysis is imperative to maintain the best health possible while on dialysis. Without a well-functioning access, the goal of a successful dialysis treatment becomes impossible to achieve.

You are the best advocate for yourself and your access. We want you to be educated on how to identify some of the “warning signs” that your access may be starting to malfunction. These warning signs may indicate that further investigation and intervention may need to be done to prolong the life of your access and maintain long term usefulness. If any of the problems below occur, please notify your nurse or technician at the dialysis unit.

Together we can work to prolong and improve your health while on dialysis!

Grafts and Fistulas

  • Prolonged Bleeding after discontinuation of dialysis. Greater than 10-15 minutes is too long and should be investigated
  • Areas of “swelling” or “ballooning” that are new or increasing
  • Redness, pain or drainage from the access
  • Yellow light or constant alarming of the dialysis machine during your treatment
  • Blood pump on the dialysis machine is reading less than 400
  • Pain in your arm or hand
  • Repeated difficulty with the dialysis staff being able to “stick” your access
  • Failure to use the access 6-8 weeks after placement of the new access


  • Pain, redness, discharge, or swelling at the skin exit site of your catheter
  • Catheter becomes loose or moves out of skin
  • Blood pump on the dialysis machine is reading less than 300
  • Repeated difficulty with the catheter working properly while on dialysis
  • Breakage of the red or blue port clamps on your catheter
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