Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Guidelines

Acute kidney injury: summary of NICE guidance

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 28 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4930
  1. Saoussen Ftouh, senior research fellow and project manager1,
  2. Mark Thomas, consultant physician and nephrologist2
  3. on behalf of the Acute Kidney Injury Guideline Development Group
  1. 1National Clinical Guideline Centre, Royal College of Physicians, London NW1 4LE, UK
  2. 2Department of Renal Medicine, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M Thomas mark.thomas{at}

Acute kidney injury is seen in about 15% of adults admitted to hospital in developed countries,1 with elderly people being particularly affected. The definition of acute kidney injury is based on monitoring serum creatinine levels, with or without urine output (see tables 1 and 2 for examples of definitions for adults and children (the “Further information” box on discusses controversies in the definition)). In a recent large NHS audit of severe (stage 3) acute kidney injury, mortality across hospitals was consistent at about 30-40% (personal communication, James Medcalf). As acute kidney injury often occurs in people under the care of healthcare professionals other than nephrologists, awareness of the condition needs to be raised among all healthcare professionals, especially those seeing sick or older patients. It is estimated that raising awareness and delivery of optimal care could save about 12 000 lives and £150m in England each year.4 This article summarises the most recent recommendations on acute kidney injury for adults, young people, and children from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).5

View this table:
Table 1

 Initial detection and staging of acute kidney injury in adults according to Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Group2

View this table:
Table 2

 Initial detection and staging of acute kidney injury in children according to pRIFLE (paediatric RIFLE) definition3


NICE recommendations are based on systematic reviews of best available evidence and explicit consideration of cost effectiveness. When minimal evidence is available, recommendations are based on the Guideline Development Group’s experience and opinion of what constitutes good practice. Evidence levels for the recommendations are given in italic in square brackets.

Identifying acute kidney injury in adults with acute illness

  • Investigate for acute kidney injury (by measuring serum creatinine concentration and comparing with baseline) in adults with acute illness if any of the following are likely or present:

    • - Chronic kidney disease (adults with …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription