Deficits in information transfer between hospital-based and primary-care physicians, the case of kidney disease: a cross-sectional study

J Nephrol. 2015 Oct;28(5):563-70. doi: 10.1007/s40620-015-0175-3. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


Background: Late recognition plays an important role in prognosis associated with kidney disease; thus, information transfer at hospital discharge regarding kidney disease is crucial. Whether it is notified in patients' hospital discharge summary (HDS) is presently largely unknown.

Study design: Cross-sectional.

Setting and participants: The prevalence of kidney dysfunction [estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <60 ml/min/1.73 m(2)] and its reporting to primary-care physicians from 26 units [11 surgery, 11 medical, 4 intensive care units (ICUs)] of a university hospital were analyzed in 14,000 hospitalizations.

Predictor: eGFR.

Outcome: Notification of kidney dysfunction in HDS.

Measurements: GFR was estimated from serum creatinine using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease formula.

Results: Kidney dysfunction was frequent (27.2 %) but infrequently notified in the main-body of the HDS (overall 25.3 %, medical 25 %, surgical 16.3 %, ICU 48.4 %) even when severe (eGFR 15-29.9 ml/min/1.73 m(2) was notified in 68.8, 38.5, and 79.8 % of HDSs in medical, surgical and ICUs, respectively). Notification in the HDS conclusion was rare (overall 11.4 %, medical 9.8 %, surgical 8.4 %, ICU 27.5 %). Reporting remained low when eGFR remained abnormal at discharge (medical 35.8 %, surgical 22.5 %, ICU 62.2 %) but was worse for acute kidney injury (16.0, 17.1, and 37.7 %, respectively). The optimal eGFR cut-off for reporting was 39 ml/min/1.73 m(2). Longer durations of hospitalization, greater numbers of creatinine measurements and of abnormal eGFR were associated with notification, regardless of the type of unit.

Limitations: Lack of data to define acute or chronic kidney injury with precision.

Conclusions: Kidney dysfunction is frequent in hospitalized patients but is usually not notified, even when severe or still present at discharge, suggesting that it is not considered important to disclose to primary-care physicians. This lack of information may decrease physicians' awareness, and may affect continuity of care in patients with kidney dysfunction.

Keywords: Hospital discharge summary; Information; Kidney disease; Primary-care physician.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Health Information Exchange / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis
  • Kidney Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Primary Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors