Nursing staff have been urged to do more to help spot and prevent a serious kidney condition responsible for more than 40,000 deaths a year.
The National Patient Safety Team, which is based at the new regulator NHS Improvement, has sent out an official safety alert to raise awareness of acute kidney injury (AKI).
“This cause of harm is not known by the public or always recognised by clinical staff”
The condition – which involves a sudden reduction in kidney function – affects more than half a million people year and 5-15% of all patients admitted to hospital.
However, it can be hard to recognise as it is not a physical injury and does not come with obvious symptoms.
It is estimated up to a third of deaths related to AKI could have been prevented if the right blood tests had been done and with prompt treatment.
The condition is a particular concern for already vulnerable patients, such as older people, those with chronic conditions like heart failure and diabetes, and those with acute illnesses like sepsis.
The patient safety alert is aimed at all clinicians, including hospital doctors and nurses, GPs and practice nurses and pharmacists, and points staff in the direction of useful resources to help boost their understanding of AKI.
The resources were developed as part of the Think Kidneys campaign – part of a national AKI prevention programme.
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“Acute Kidney Injury contributes to around 40,000 deaths every year in England, around 13,000 of which are preventable, and yet this cause of harm is not known by the public or indeed not always recognised by clinical staff,” said Dr Mike Durkin, NHS national director for patient safety.
“During the summer months it is even more important for people to keep hydrated and recognise how to keep healthy, and for clinical staff to be alert to any signs of kidney problems in patients,” he said.
“The resources we have published will help both the public and clinical staff across the NHS to prevent, identify and treat AKI,” he added.