Primary care management of chronic kidney disease

J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Apr;26(4):386-92. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1523-6. Epub 2010 Oct 5.


Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes substantial morbidity and mortality; however, there are limited data to comprehensively assess quality of care in this area.

Objective: To assess quality of care for CKD according to patient risk and identify correlates of improved care delivery.

Design: Retrospective cohort.

Setting: Fifteen health centers within a multi-site group practice in eastern Massachusetts.

Participants: 166 primary care physicians caring for 11,774 patients with stages 3 or 4 CKD defined as two estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR) between 15 and 60.

Main measures: Two measures of kidney disease monitoring, five measures of cardiovascular disease management, four measures of metabolic bone disease and anemia management, and one measure of drug safety were extracted from the electronic health record. Primary care recognition of CKD was assessed as a problem list diagnosis, and nephrology co-management was assessed as at least one visit with a nephrologist in the prior 12 months.

Key results: Overall, 46% of patients were high risk for death based on the presence of diabetes, proteinuria, or an eGFR <45. Seventy percent of patients lacked annual urine protein testing, 46% had a blood pressure ≥130/80 mmHg and 25% were not receiving appropriate angiotensin blockade. Appropriate screening for anemia was common (76%), while screening rates for metabolic bone disease were low. Use of potentially harmful drugs was common (26%). Primary care physician recognition and nephrology co-management were both associated with improved quality of care, though rates of both were low (24% and 10%, respectively).

Conclusions: Significant deficiencies in the quality of CKD care exist. Opportunities for improvement include increasing physician recognition of CKD and improving collaborative care with nephrology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies