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28.08.13

A fifth of emergency kidney conditions are preventable – NICE

New NICE guidance could save 12,000 lives a year from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). Although one in five emergency admissions present with AKI, there are low levels of awareness and education among health professionals and the general public.

AKI causes loss of kidney function and can lead to kidneys becoming overwhelmed and permanently shut down if not treated. The guidance emphasis the importance of early detection, with around 20% of emergency cases preventable, saving around 12,000 lives each year in England.

Dr Mark Thomas, Consultant Physician and Nephrologist at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the group that developed the guideline, said: “AKI can be readily identified by measuring serum creatinine levels and urine output. These tests are currently done when patients present to hospital but the healthcare professionals should be monitoring the results closely for signs of AKI.

“Cases of AKI can be prevented by picking it up early and treating it. This involves stopping dehydration, treating any infections and treating the underlying cause of the AKI.

“There are a range of drugs that can upset the kidneys. So patients with AKI who are on drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ACE-inhibitors will need to have their drug use monitored.”

Dr Richard Fluck, National Director for Kidney Care, said: “By taking a systematic approach to the assessment of risk, early detection, training and simple therapy, the NHS has the opportunity to improve the outlook for people who have AKI and to be at the forefront in tackling this international health concern.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN, commented: “This is important and timely guidance, which will help staff and patients to better understand this condition. If a person is at risk from acute kidney injury, whether due to acute illness, existing conditions, medication or other risk factors, then this must be identified early on and action taken.

“This guidance should help doctors and nurses to spot those patients who are at risk and be confident in monitoring and treating them. Specialist nurses are already making a considerable difference in this field and their expertise has been crucial to this guidance. This is an area of medicine where many lives could be saved if the level of understanding is the same among staff in all settings, and the NHS as a whole should act on this guidance as a matter of urgency.”

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