Pathology labs to send acute kidney injury alerts direct to practices

GPs should act faster to manage acute kidney injury (AKI), NHS experts have said, as changes to IT systems this month allow practices to receive blood test warning alerts direct from pathology labs.

Changes to GP IT systems will allow pathology labs to send electronic warning alerts for AKI directly to practices from April 2016.

The new system means that any GPs or practice nurses requesting serum creatinine blood tests will be alerted if there are significant changes for the individual patient.

The overhauled alert system will ‘require a more immediate response from GPs and practice nurses’, said Think Kidneys, part of an NHS programme to help prevent avoidable harm caused by AKI.

Practices have been told to expect around one alert per whole time GP per month, of which half are likely to be the highest warning level of stage 1.

It comes following a Patient Safety Alert issued by NHS England in June 2014, which made it a requirement for pathology labs to upgrade their IT systems to allow for more sophisticated reporting of AKI warning stage test results.

Acute kidney injury

The results have already been made available to hospital doctors, with primary care forming a second phase of roll out.

Around two thirds of AKI have already developed in the community by the time patients are admitted to hospital, so GPs have a major role to play in preventative strategies, Think Kidneys said.

It has released a suite of guidance for practices on how to respond to the warnings.

One in five people admitted to hospital each year has AKI, accruing estimated costs of around £1bn per year.

Up to 100,000 deaths each year in hospital are associated with AKI, and up to 30% of these could be prevented with the right care and treatment, studies suggest.

Think Kidneys said: ‘From April 2016, AKI warning stage test results generated from electronic detection systems situated in biochemistry labs will be sent to primary care, aiming to make changes in serum creatinine concentration easier to spot. There is a need to ensure that these test results are considered in a clinical context, with an imperative of treating the patient, not the test result.’

Photo: iStock

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