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Many cases of kidney damage misdiagnosed

Many cases of acute kidney injury are misdiagnosed, according to a study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center. The findings, which were published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, could change the way patients in North Carolina and elsewhere are assessed for kidney damage.

Every year, up to 7 percent of all patients admitted to American hospitals and nearly half of those placed in critical care units are diagnosed with acute kidney injury. To make the diagnosis, doctors use a blood test that measures the amount of serum creatinine in a patient's blood. However, the test only provides a snapshot of a patient's kidney function at a given moment, and it can be influenced by factors like dehydration and body size. This makes the test susceptible to false-positive results. In the study, the researchers studied the medical records of 61,000 patients diagnosed with AKI and found that 73 percent of them had their creatinine levels return to normal within three days, which could indicate they never had kidney damage.

The researchers identified a set of biomarkers in mice that may be capable of detecting AKI more reliably than the blood test. Thismethod makes it easier to differentiate between a rise in creatinine levels caused by true kidney damage and a rise caused by dehydration. The authors of the study hope their findings will improve the initial diagnosis and treatment plan for AKI patients.

Misdiagnosis is a leading cause of patient harm in the U.S. An incorrect diagnosis is not always an indication of medical malpractice, however. An attorney for a patient will have to demonstrate that the error constituted a failure to exhibit the required standard of care.

Source: Medical Xpress, "Kidney damage diagnosis may be inaccurate for many, suggests study", Feb. 24, 2017

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