General practice could do more to prevent acute kidney injury (AKI) new NICE guidelines suggest.
According to NICE, healthcare workers in all sectors should be educated about the condition, which costs the NHS up to £620 million each year.
Small improvements in care, such as checking hydration levels and how regularly patients pass urine, could save thousands of lives each year, NICE said.
Around 12,000 lives could be saved each year, through earlier detection of AKI.
Coral Hulse, nurse consultant and Guideline Development Group member said: “As front-line staff, nurses can play a key role in watching out for the signs and symptoms of kidney problems in their patients. Monitoring fluid intake and how much urine is passed is vital in the war against acute kidney injury as is monitoring the medication the patient takes and checking results as soon as they are available.
“These guidelines come at a time when staffing levels are being scrutinised and front-line staff are busier than ever, but remembering the key things and taking a little extra time can actually prevent someone developing a life threatening condition that will cost even more time and much more money.”
Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive said: “Specialist nurses are already making a considerable difference in this field and their expertise has been crucial to this guidance.
“This is an area of medicine where many lives could be saved if the level of understanding is the same among staff in all settings, and the NHS as a whole should act on this guidance as a matter of urgency.”