GPs can take the lead in ensuring risk is reduced in patients experiencing acute kidney injury (AKI), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has said.

Speaking in response to the publication of new NICE guidelines on AKI, Dr Kathryn E Griffin, the RCGP’s clinical champion for kidney care, said that GPs have a crucial role to play in helping patients to manage conditions that could lead to AKI.

She said: “GPs can play a key role in identifying and treating patients with AKI and the RCGP welcomes the publication of the NICE Acute Kidney Injury guidelines, which highlights this.

“AKI is seen in 13-18% of all people admitted to hospital and the more patients identified and treated in primary care, the better, both for our patients and the NHS.

“Our population is ageing and our patients are increasingly presenting with multiple and complex conditions, including AKI. GPs are in a good position to take a lead in reducing our patients’ risk of AKI and its long-term complications through providing relevant information to patients and promoting self-care.

“The NICE guidelines outline important courses of action for GPs to identify patients who are most at risk of AKI, how to test for and diagnose the condition, and how to treat it.”

The new guidelines claim that the NHS could save at least 12,000 lives and millions of pounds a year if it follows its advice. The guidelines say that AKI is almost entirely preventable but is still fatal in 1 in 4 cases.

NICE say that simply ensuring the patient is properly hydrated and that kidney function is carefully monitored should be more than suitable in the majority of cases to prevent complications. Doctors should also monitor how much urine is being passed and carry out blood tests to help spot signs of dehydration.

Dr Mark Thomas, one of the guideline’s authors, said: “Many hospitals and healthcare professionals have been doing an excellent job in watching out for acute kidney injury in their patients, but unfortunately this good practice is not seen everywhere.

"The NICE recommendations give the NHS clear advice to reduce the number of avoidable deaths through acute kidney injury."