A new toolkit from the Royal College of Physicians will help doctors diagnose and treat patients with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). AKI is a sudden reduction or loss of kidney function which develops quickly - within hours or days - and is often caused by sepsis and other causes of hypotension. If the patient recovers the kidneys can return to working normally.

Patients who have recovered from AKI have a higher risk of later kidney and heart disease, so doctors must also be aware of this and take action to prevent these complications happening.

The toolkit outlines the initial risk factors and causes for AKI to help doctors spot patients at risk of AKI. Dehydrated patients are particularly at risk, so the toolkit underlines the importance of accurate fluid balance monitoring, when to start giving the patient fluids intravenously, how much and which kind of fluids should be administered. The toolkit also lists common complications to help doctors in the ongoing care of patients with AKI.

Before discharge, the clinical team should discuss the likely need for follow-up treatment with the patient, and ensure that their GP is sent details about their condition and risk of future disease. This includes advice on any potential follow-up medication.

The toolkit was written by Dr Andrew Lewington, Consultant Renal Physician, St James Hospital Leeds, and Dr Mike Jones, Consultant Acute Physician, University Hospital of North Durham. Dr Jones said: 'The toolkit puts into one place the key information and actions a doctor might need in order to be able to diagnose and manage acute kidney injury. By helping to support prompt decision making, we might also save lives and improve surviving patients' quality of life.'

The acute kidney injury and intravenous fluid therapy tool kit can be downloaded here.