A sustained quality improvement program reduces nephrotoxic medication-associated acute kidney injury

Kidney Int. 2016 Jul;90(1):212-21. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2016.03.031. Epub 2016 May 21.


Exposure to nephrotoxic medication is among the most common causes of acute kidney injury (AKI) in hospitalized patients. Here we conducted a prospective quality improvement project implementing a systematic Electronic Health Record screening and decision support process (trigger) in our quaternary pediatric inpatient hospital. Eligible patients were noncritically ill hospitalized children receiving an intravenous aminoglycoside for more than 3 days or more than 3 nephrotoxins simultaneously (exposure) from September 2011 through March 2015. Pharmacists recommended daily serum creatinine monitoring in exposed patients after appearance on the trigger report and AKI was defined by the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes AKI criteria. A total of 1749 patients accounted for 2358 separate hospital admissions during which a total of 3243 episodes of nephrotoxin exposure were identified with 170 patients (9.7%) experiencing 2 or more exposures. A total of 575 individual AKI episodes occurred over the 43-month study period. Overall, the exposure rate decreased by 38% (11.63-7.24 exposures/1000 patient days), and the AKI rate decreased by 64% (2.96-1.06 episodes/1000 patient days). Assuming initial baseline exposure rates would have persisted without our project implementation, we estimate 633 exposures and 398 AKI episodes were avoided. Thus, systematic surveillance for nephrotoxic medication exposure and near real-time AKI risk can lead to sustained reductions in avoidable harm. These interventions and outcomes are translatable to other pediatric and nonpediatric hospitalized settings.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; electronic health record; nephrotoxic medications; quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / blood
  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / blood
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control*
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Young Adult


  • Creatinine