Background: Renal replacement therapy (RRT) for acute renal failure (ARF) may be provided in many settings within the hospital. Such patients require a high level of care and often have a poor prognosis. No prospective studies have accurately defined this population, making the prediction of necessary resources and the planning of services difficult.
Aim: To ascertain the incidence, causes and outcomes of acute renal failure requiring renal replacement therapy in Scotland.
Design: A prospective observational census of all clinical areas providing renal replacement therapy in three Scottish health boards (Grampian, Highland, Tayside).
Methods: Patients were identified by liaison with each unit providing RRT. Factors precipitating renal failure and reasons for RRT were recorded at the time of initiation. Comorbid disease burden was scored using the Charlson index. Patient status at 90 days was assessed from case-notes, contacting general practitioners where necessary.
Results: 375 patients per million population per year received RRT; 203 per million per year for either ARF or acute-on-chronic renal failure. 73.5% of patients receiving RRT for ARF died within 90 days, 23.5% became independent of RRT. The median duration of hospital admission was 19 days.
Discussion: The annual incidence of ARF requiring RRT is just over 200 per million population, almost twice that of end-stage renal disease requiring RRT. Such treatment places high demands upon health care resources.