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Kidney report will 'help doctors and nurses'

The Royal College of Nursing said NHS guidance on treating acute kidney injury was "important and timely".

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, said:

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.

– Dr Peter Carter


Acute kidney injury - what to check for

Acute kidney injury is most commonly caused by dehydration, blood loss or the use of medicines, and is often diagnosed while patients are already in hospital.

Symptoms of AKI may include:

  • Little or no urine when you urinate.
  • Swelling, especially in your legs and feet.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling confused, anxious or sleepy.
  • Pain in the back just below the rib cage (flank pain).

A quarter of AKI patients admitted to hospital will die

Facts about acute kidney injury:

  • Between 262,000 and one million people admitted to hospital as an emergency will have AKI, of which just under a quarter will die.
  • Of these, between 12,000 and 42,000 deaths could be prevented if patients received good treatment, according to Nice.
  • A 2009 report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found only half of all patients with AKI had received good care, dropping to a third of those who developed it while in hospital.
  • A third of patients suffered due to inadequate investigations, including health staff not carrying out "simple" and "basic" checks.
  • Staff were also found to be "poor" at recognising symptoms and did not always refer patients to kidney specialists in time.

Acute Kidney Injury 'kills more than common cancers'

Acute kidney injury (AKI) kills more people than common cancers but some hospitals are not focusing enough on the disease, a doctor has warned.

Dr Mark Thomas, the Chair of the new guideline development group, said AKI was perceived by the public and some health workers as a "Cinderella condition"

AKI has been something of a Cinderella condition in the past both within healthcare and in the public perception, yet it kills more people than any of the common cancers.

In the past, the care for this condition has not always been uniformly good, partly because the patients have tended to present to a range of non-specialists who may have been unfamiliar with the best prevention and treatment of the condition.

It's now really over to the wider NHS to implement the guidance, which we believe can save both lives and money,

– Chair of the new guideline development group, Dr Mark Thomas

NHS urged to prevent 'needless' kidney deaths

Thousands of hospital patients are dying "needlessly" every year from kidney problems that could be treated, according to new NHS guidance.

Between 12,000 and 42,000 deaths could be prevented every year if patients received the best possible care, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Nice also said simple checks could stop 100,000 cases of acute kidney injury. Credit: Reuters

Around 100,000 cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) - previously called acute renal failure - could also be stopped across England with simple checks such as ensuring patients are hydrated and their medicines are reviewed.

A new guideline from Nice claims AKI costs the NHS between £434 million and £620 million a year - more than it spends on breast, lung and skin cancer combined.