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Acute Kidney Injury (AKI)


AKI is a rapid reduction in kidney function resulting in a failure to maintain fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance

Acute Kidney Injury (Dr Sarah Grieve May 2020)
  • AKI is a clinical and biochemical syndrome reflecting abrupt kidney dysfunction
  • AKI stage is determined by acute changes to serum creatinine and / or urine output
  • AKI usually occurs secondary to acute illness ( commonly sepsis) Identifying underlying acute illness causing AKI is key to establishing primary diagnosis.

Key tables below

Full versions in RCGP AKI thumbnail link below (and link right)

Click on image below for link to full RCGP Toolkit
Click on image below to access “Think Kidneys” Website with patient and primary resources

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) in the Community (Rachael Lee 2021)

AKI – a rapid reduction in kidney function resulting in a failure to maintain fluid, electrolyte and acid-base homoeostasis. Approximately 65% of AKI starts in the community

Definition of AKI – Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO)
Background of Acute Kidney Injury AKI

The NHS is the first health system in the world to attempt to tackle AKI with a system-wide approach.

  • Up to 100,000 deaths each year in hospital are associated with AKI
  • Up to 30% of those deaths could be prevented with the right treatment and care
  • 1 in 5 people admitted to hospital as an emergency has AKI
  • Around 65% of AKI starts in the community
  • 15 million people in the UK live with long term conditions which are more prevalent in older people placing them at greater risk of AKI
  • The annual cost of AKI-related inpatient care in England is estimated at £1 billion, just over 1% of the NHS budget



Distinguishing AKI and CKD
  • Most patients with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) look unwell, may have hyperkalaemia (potassium > 6.0 mmol/L), and usually need admission or rapid review according to the guidance above.
  • Patients with CKD usually look well, and may have other complications of CKD (eg anaemia, low calcium, high PTH etc).
  • If hyperkalaemic, they may also need admission or rapid review. AKI on CKD exists and can have a mixture of all these features, and should be managed as AKI.
AKI Prevention in Primary Care – Medicines Sick Day Card (Salford Sick Day Card)

The primary aim is prevention of AKI through education of the patients (making them aware of their higher risk), regular medicines management reviews and sick day guidance.

Use the Salford Sick Day Card for vulnerable patients (especially the elderly, with polypharmacy, and CKD).

This asks the patient to stop a range of drugs including Metformin, ACE/ARB, NSAIDs and diuretics for a few days if they are feeling unwell (especially septic, eg fever, gastroenteritis, UTI).

The will probably need to restart them 24-48 hours later, when better, and eating and drinking normally  or consult their GP if unsure

Follow link for a copy of the card

Useful links:

Think Kidneys Quick Reference Guide

Think Kidneys Recognising and Responding to Acute Kidney Injury for Adults in Primary Care Table

GP Gateway Electrolyte Abnormalities

Think Kidneys Primary Care Advice for Medication Review in AKI Quick Guide to problematic drugs

Think Kidneys Restarting ACEI  ARB Diuretics Antihypertensive drugs after AKI  Restarting Medications

Think Kidneys Sick-Day Guidance 2018

Patient Information

Think Kidneys Patient Infographic  

Think Kidneys Patient at Risk Leaflet_Printout  

Care Home Information & Guidance

Think Kidneys Care Homes Resources

Think Kidneys Could my patient have Acute Kidney Injury?

UHCW Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) Service

Dr Krishna Appunu – Consultant Nephrologist – Bleep 4474

Rachael Lee – Advanced Nurse Practitioner & Lead Nurse – Bleep 5009

Suzanne Morgan – Advanced Nurse Practioner – Bleep 5233

Outlier Registrar – Bleep 4134

Provides clinical review of in-patients at UHCW that flag via the CRRS alert system as having an AKI 1, 2 or 3 and work closely with the parent teams to identify cause of AKI and an appropriate management plan to treat and resolve the AKI.

AKI Clinics

All patients that have been reviewed by either the Advanced Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist during their inpatient stay that had either an AKI 2 or an AKI 3 will be invited to a post discharge clinic 2-3 weeks post discharge.

Purpose of the clinic: to monitor the renal function to ensure AKI has resolved to baseline, organise any further investigations and to educate the patients about their AKI to aim to reduce or prevent further AKI’s for these patients

AKI Referrals

Patients that have an AKI 3 or are too sick to manage in primary care should be referred either via Accident & Emergency or through the GP liaison Team (02476 966223 or Bleep 1424)

Information to send with referral

  • Medical History – including recent blood tests, urinalysis, MSU, ACR,PCR results
  • Previous tests of renal function and dates
  • Medications including recent prescriptions or alterations
  • Examination findings and observations
  • Imaging investigations & results i.e. CXR, USS KUB, Contrast procedures
  • Recent surgery – dates & complications

Useful Links & Documents

Think Kidneys AKI Promotion Programme

Nice.org.uk Guidance

RCGP AKI Toolkit

E-learning RCGP course info

Professional Resources

Follow link for additional professional AKI resources page

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