It is very important to have complete information in order to make the best treatment choice for yourself. Informed patients can better handle the stress and make decisions that may come up.
Here are some suggested questions for your doctor, dialysis center staff, or transplant hospital team. Northwest Kidney Centers recommends gathering as much information as you can before your appointment. Bringing someone with you to important appointments can help you keep track of your doctor’s answers and will help make sure you ask the questions you planned.
Questions to ask your nephrologist (kidney doctor):
• What is the cause, name, and description of my kidney problem?
• Do I have any other important illnesses? How do these illnesses relate to my kidney disease?
• What types of dialysis treatments may I choose from? How will I be a part of deciding this?
• What are the treatment goals for me including my best weight, blood pressure, red blood cell count, blood chemistries, medicines, diet, and fluid intake?
• In terms of my health, am I able to have a transplant? If not, why?
• What do the transplant evaluation and testing processes include? How do they affect whether or not I am placed on the list?
• What are the benefits and risks of a kidney transplant?
• Do I have a choice between a living-donor transplant and a cadaver transplant?
• If I need a cadaver transplant, how is a kidney found?
• What are the health risks to a living donor who might donate a kidney to me?
• How do my dialysis center and my transplant hospital relate to each other.
• What is the success rate in this area for living-donor and cadaver transplants in cases like mine?
• Why is tissue typing important?
Questions to ask your nephrologist and dialysis center staff:
• How much will my dialysis care cost? How much will I have to pay?
• Will I get medical care even if I have financial problems?
• What role will I have in my own care? Will doctors, nurses, and technicians do everything? Should I help with my care? If so, how much?
• Will dialysis be done in my home or in a center?
• If I decide to dialyze at home, where will I get the training, equipment, and supplies? How are equipment and supplies delivered? How much will it cost and how will costs be paid?
• Will I be asked to help in research studies? If so, will I be fully informed about the research before I am asked to decide? Can I refuse to take part in research?
Questions to ask your transplant hospital staff:
• What is the hospital’s experience with kidney or kidney/pancreas transplants?
• What experience does the hospital have in treating problems due to transplant surgery?
• What are the organ and patient survival rates at this hospital?
• How much does a transplant cost at this hospital? What expenses will be paid by my insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid coverage? What will I have to pay? What if my insurance coverage runs out?
• Who are the members of the transplant team, and what are their jobs?
• Who will tell my family and me the details of the transplant process?
• Is there a special hospital unit for transplant patients? Can my family stay in my room with me?
• Will I be asked to take part in research studies?
• What types of living-donor transplants does the hospital do? Where will the donor evaluation be done?
• How long is the local kidney or kidney/pancreas transplant waiting list?
• About how long do patients wait for a cadaver transplant?
• Do I need to stay close to the transplant hospital after I am put on the waiting list? Do I need to stay close for a short time after I leave the hospital? If so, for how long?
• If I do not live close to the transplant hospital, how will I get there and who pays for travel costs?
• How soon must I be at the transplant hospital after being called for transplant surgery?
Questions to ask your transplant surgeon:
• How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
• Do I have to stay in the hospital all the time, or can I leave for short periods of time?
• What is the usual drug treatment to suppress or lower my immune system? How do I deal with possible side effects, including weight gain?
• What medicines do I need to take, and how much do they cost?
• How often do I need follow-up exams, and what tests will I need?
• Will my regular doctor help with my follow-up care?
• How soon can I return to work after my transplant?
• What am I responsible for over the long-term?