Acute kidney injury programme – Think Kidneys

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is an emerging global healthcare issue. As health care increases in complexity, the interaction between long term medical conditions, medication and inter-current illness are too often complicated by acute kidney injury. It is estimated that one in five emergency admissions into hospital are associated with acute kidney injury (Wang et al, 2012), that up to 100,000 deaths in secondary care are associated with acute kidney injury and that 1/4 to 1/3 have the potential to be prevented (National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) Adding Insult to Injury 2009).

The resource and economic burden upon the healthcare economy is considerable. It is estimated that the additional cost is £500 million (data from NHS Kidney Care 2012).

Purpose and vision

The primary aim of the acute kidney programme, Think Kidneys, is to reduce the risk and burden of acute kidney injury. To do so, it will lead work on the development of sustainable clinical tools, information and levers and prioritise patient empowerment. It will engage commissioning pathways and other clinical networks whilst establishing local and national data collection and audit leading to further safety improvement. It will identify areas of research need and provide the framework to improve care quality.

Within three years the ambition is to:

  1. establish the data flows to allow successful audit and quality improvement
  2. provide clinicians and patients with the education, information and access to and about acute kidney injury to inform individual care
  3. support commissioners and organisational leads in driving and championing the need to improve acute kidney injury care.

Programme objectives

The primary aim of the Think Kidneys Programme Board is to ensure avoidable harm related to AKI is prevented in all care settings.  It will aim to do this by:

  • ensuring that a variety of tools and interventions are developed and implemented to support the prevention, early detection, treatment and enhanced recovery of patients with acute kidney injury
  • ensuring that patients who develop acute kidney injury are appropriately managed and supported to reduce further deterioration, long term disability and death
  • ensuring that appropriate education and training programmes are developed, shared and available for all healthcare professionals based on best available evidence
  • ensuring that commissioners, healthcare professionals and managers are aware of the importance and risks of acute kidney injury and appropriate local strategies to reduce the burden of acute kidney injury are developed
  • developing a national registry and audit for acute kidney injury leading to an improvement strategy on a national and local basis to reduce unwarranted variation in care
  • involving and supporting patients and their families and the public in understanding the risk of acute kidney injury and preventative measures through education and appropriate access to personal information
  • supporting the development of a commissioning structure to allow local service to be developed that provide quality care to individuals with acute kidney injury
  • identifying the research agenda for acute kidney injury (including basic science, clinical care and service delivery).

Find out more

  • Visit the Think Kidneys website at for more information on the programme and its objectives. The website primarily provides information for health and care professionals, with signposting information for patients and the public. There is a section for signing up for email updates on the work of Think Kidneys.
  • Follow us on Twitter: @ThinkKidneys
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