Life-threatening kidney injuries to be prevented by pioneering NHS trust

Western Sussex Hospitals wins national competition with Patientrack

Acute kidney injuries that contribute to tens of thousands of deaths in England every year could soon be avoided due to the launch of a ground-breaking project at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The project, which is being funded from the winnings in a national competition run by the Department of Health and Small Business Research Initiative, is to go live at the trust later this summer. Doctors and nurses will then be able to identify patients at risk of acute kidney injury (AKI), a devastating condition that contributes to more than 60,000 deaths across England every year.

By using Patientrack, a real-time patient vital signs early warning and alerting system, the trust will be able to put into practice a predictive model developed by its pioneering researchers as the system will automatically alert clinical staff to those patients that either have AKI, and importantly, those likely to develop it.

AKI affects as many as one in five emergency admission patients and has been estimated to cost the NHS as much as £620m per year – more than lung and skin cancer combined.

Ultimately, if we can identify people and do something about it, even if we can reduce incidents of hospital acquired acute kidney injury by 50%, then that would be a dramatic improvement and should translate to improved patient outcomes

Delays in medical staff recognising the condition has also traditionally caused further problems. But clinicians will soon be able to intervene much earlier, with the ability to both identify patients who already have AKI when they arrive at hospital and the ability to predict which patients are at greatest risk of developing the condition while in their care.

Dr Lui Forni, the consultant renal physician leading the initiative at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patientrack gives us the ability to flag up which patients are at risk of acute kidney injury almost from the moment they walk through the door. We can see which patients are at risk from the first set of observations we take.

“Effectively it is an intelligent real-time technology that should systemically improve the care of patients. It will prevent and it will help to improve the management of people who come in with AKI.”

The system will capture physiological data directly from the patient’s bedside and will interrogate data from other systems, such as the hospital’s Patient Administration System, also taking into account important information such as blood chemistry results. It will then use the trust’s scoring algorithm to identify every patient with identifiable acute kidney injury that comes into hospital.

After identifying and predicting AKI problems, Patientrack will also be used to manage patients. Those who already have the condition will be highlighted with a red flag so they can be given appropriate treatment by staff. Those at risk of the condition will be given an amber flag and the system will alert junior doctors to carry out necessary actions to prevent AKI, which senior doctors can then check.

“Having a system where you can identify early and intervene should make a considerable difference,” said Dr Forni, who is also the chairman of the AKI section of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM).

“Ultimately, if we can identify people and do something about it, even if we can reduce incidents of hospital acquired acute kidney injury by 50%, then that would be a dramatic improvement and should translate to improved patient outcomes.”

Patientrack is seeing a growing appetite within the NHS to improve safety for patients and save lives through innovative, evidence-based technology

The project was identified as one of 14 pioneering solutions to become eligible for a share of the £3.6m fund, which has been managed by the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Co-operative. The fund is intended to address the life-changing effects of kidney failure.

Donald Kennedy, managing director at Patientrack, said: “This is a great example of the NHS leading the world in patient safety. Patientrack is seeing a growing appetite within the NHS to improve safety for patients and save lives through innovative, evidence-based technology. It is a welcome opportunity to be part of this leading-edge collaboration between the NHS and a UK SME.”

After initial use at hospitals in Sussex, it is hoped that the system will be adopted across the NHS to reduce incidents of AKI more widely.

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