Quality of prereferral care in patients with chronic renal insufficiency

Am J Kidney Dis. 2002 Jul;40(1):30-6. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2002.33910.


Background: Appropriate care in chronic renal insufficiency (CRI) includes blood pressure and diabetes control, as well as the investigation and management of anemia, acidosis, and bone disease. There is a lack of data on the control of these parameters at the time of referral to a nephrologist. Similarly, early referral has been emphasized in the literature, yet very little published has examined current referral patterns.

Methods: A single-center retrospective/prospective review of all new outpatient referrals to nephrologists in Halifax, Canada, in 1998 and 1999 was conducted to identify patients with CRI (serum creatinine > 1.6 mg/dL [141 micromol/L] for men or >1.2 mg/dL [106 micromol/L] for women). Quality of prereferral care was based on data from the initial clinic visit.

Results: Of 1,050 charts reviewed, 411 patients met the study criteria. Twenty-six percent of patients had diabetes mellitus, 18% were referred with a calculated glomerular filtration rate less than 15 mL/min, and blood pressure was optimally controlled (<130 mm Hg systolic and <80 mm Hg diastolic) in only 24%. Only 44% of patients were administered an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. Patients were administered an average of 1.9 antihypertensive agents. Significant anemia (hemoglobin < 10 g/dL) was present in 21%, and appropriate investigations were performed in only 35% of these patients. Calcium levels less than 8.6 mg/dL (2.15 mmol/L) were found in 19% of patients, and only 14% of these patients were started on calcium supplement therapy. Phosphate levels greater than 5.0 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) were seen in 20% of patients, and 14% of these patients were on phosphate-binder therapy. Parathyroid hormone levels were more than five times normal values in 18% of patients, and 25% of patients had bicarbonate levels less than 23 mmol/L.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of patients referred with CRI receive inadequate prereferral care. Continuing education programs and referral guidelines must not only emphasize the importance of early referral, but also address the related consequences of CRI to delay the progression of renal disease and avoid complications.

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / etiology
  • Acidosis / physiopathology
  • Acidosis / therapy
  • Aged
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Anemia / therapy
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Bone Diseases / etiology
  • Bone Diseases / physiopathology
  • Bone Diseases / therapy
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Creatinine