Epidemiology and Clinical Outcomes of Community-Acquired Acute Kidney Injury in the Emergency Department: A Multisite Retrospective Cohort Study

Michael R. Ehmann, Eili Y. Klein, Xihan Zhao, Jonathon Mitchell, Steven Menez, Aria Smith, Scott Levin, Jeremiah S. Hinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale & Objective: The prevalence of community-acquired acute kidney injury (CA-AKI) in the United States and its clinical consequences are not well described. Our objective was to describe the epidemiology of CA-AKI and the associated clinical outcomes. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting & Participants: 178,927 encounters by 139,632 adults at 5 US emergency departments (EDs) between July 1, 2017, and December 31, 2022. Predictors: CA-AKI identified using KDIGO (Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes) serum creatinine (Scr)–based criteria. Outcomes: For encounters resulting in hospitalization, the in-hospital trajectory of AKI severity, dialysis initiation, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and death. For all encounters, occurrence over 180 days of hospitalization, ICU admission, new or progressive chronic kidney disease, dialysis initiation, and death. Analytical Approach: Multivariable logistic regression analysis to test the association between CA-AKI and measured outcomes. Results: For all encounters, 10.4% of patients met the criteria for any stage of AKI on arrival to the ED. 16.6% of patients admitted to the hospital from the ED had CA-AKI on arrival to the ED. The likelihood of AKI recovery was inversely related to CA-AKI stage on arrival to the ED. Among encounters for hospitalized patients, CA-AKI was associated with in-hospital dialysis initiation (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 5.1-7.5), ICU admission (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.7-2.0), and death (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 2.0-2.5) compared with patients without CA-AKI. Among all encounters, CA-AKI was associated with new or progressive chronic kidney disease (OR, 6.0; 95% CI, 5.6-6.4), dialysis initiation (OR, 5.1; 95% CI, 4.5-5.7), subsequent hospitalization (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.1-1.2) including ICU admission (OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.4), and death (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.5-1.7) during the subsequent 180 days. Limitations: Residual confounding. Study implemented at a single university-based health system. Potential selection bias related to exclusion of patients without an available baseline Scr measurement. Potential ascertainment bias related to limited repeat Scr data during follow-up after an ED visit. Conclusions: CA-AKI is a common and important entity that is associated with serious adverse clinical consequences during the 6-month period after diagnosis. Plain-Language Summary: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a condition characterized by a rapid decline in kidney function. There are many causes of AKI, but few studies have examined how often AKI is already present when patients first arrive to an emergency department seeking medical attention for any reason. We analyzed approximately 175,000 visits to Johns Hopkins emergency departments and found that AKI is common on presentation to the emergency department and that patients with AKI have increased risks of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, development of chronic kidney disease, requirement of dialysis, and death in the first 6 months after diagnosis. AKI is an important condition for health care professionals to recognize and is associated with serious adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-771.e1
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Acute kidney injury
  • dialysis
  • epidemiology
  • mortality
  • renal failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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