Impact of Electronic Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) Alerts With Automated Nephrologist Consultation on Detection and Severity of AKI: A Quality Improvement Study

Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Jan;71(1):9-19. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.06.008. Epub 2017 Jul 25.


Background: Several electronic alert systems for acute kidney injury (AKI) have been introduced. However, their clinical benefits require further investigation.

Study design: Before-and-after quality improvement study.

Setting & participants: A tertiary teaching hospital in Korea, which adopted an AKI alert system on June 1, 2014. Before and after launch of the alert system, 1,884 and 1,309 patients with AKI were included in the usual-care and alert groups, respectively.

Quality improvement plan: Implementation of an AKI alert system through which clinicians could generate automated consultations to the nephrology division for all hospitalized patients.

Outcomes: Primary outcomes included overlooked AKI events, defined as not measuring the follow-up creatinine value, and the consultation pattern of clinicians. Secondary outcomes were severe AKI events; AKI recovery, defined based on the creatinine-based criterion; and patient mortality.

Measurements: ORs for events of overlooked AKI, early consultation, and severe AKI were calculated with logistic regression. AKI recovery rate and patient mortality were assessed using Cox regression.

Results: After introduction of the alert system, the odds of overlooked AKI events were significantly lower (adjusted OR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.30-0.52), and the odds of an early consultation with a nephrologist were greater (adjusted OR, 6.13; 95% CI, 4.80-7.82). The odds of a severe AKI event was reduced after implementation of the alerts (adjusted OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.64-0.89). Furthermore, the likelihood of AKI recovery was improved in the alert group (adjusted HR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.53-1.88). Mortality was not affected by the AKI alert system (adjusted HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.68-1.68).

Limitations: Possible unreported differences between the alert and usual-care groups.

Conclusions: Implementation of the AKI alert system was associated with beneficial effects in terms of an improved rate of recovery from AKI. Therefore, widespread adoption of such systems could be considered in general hospitals.

Keywords: AKI alarm; AKI alert; Acute kidney injury (AKI); electronic alert; electronic medical record (EMR); nephrology consultation; quality improvement report; serum creatinine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Clinical Alarms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, Teaching*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrologists*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Referral and Consultation / standards*
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate / trends