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A new study published in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal demonstrates how your pharmacist can screen for kidney disease. This study shows that pharmacists identified unrecognized chronic kidney disease (CKD) in one out of every seven patients who were screened.

So how did these 55 Alberta pharmacists achieve this impressive result, and more importantly, how can you benefit from this public health service? Pharmacists used an online support tool called CKD Pathway. This tool provides guidance on who should be screened and what lab tests should be ordered. Pharmacist ordered screening tests called serum creatinine (SCr) and albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR), or used recent test results in the electronic health record. In Alberta, all pharmacists can order blood work as part of managing medication therapy. Pharmacists also asked patients if they had a previous diagnosis of CKD. The results of the two lab tests were then entered into the online CKD Pathway tool to assess for the presence of CKD.

A total of 720 patients were screened by pharmacists and 283 (39%) were diagnosed with CKD. Even more interestingly, pharmacists determined that 113 of patients had previously unrecognized CKD. This means that these patients could potentially initiate appropriate treatment and referral quickly after being assessed as having CKD. Now, pharmacists can improve public health by identifying patients with unrecognized CKD in the community setting.

The Canadian Pharmacists Journal issue with a focus on screening for kidney disease. (Courtesy: Canadian Pharmacists Journal)

The Canadian Pharmacists Journal issue with a focus on screening for kidney disease. (Courtesy: Canadian Pharmacists Journal)

Talk to your pharmacist to learn about your particular risk factors for CKD and to initiate appropriate screening and referral. The Canadian Pharmacists Journal study also suggests there’s a benefit to patients when pharmacists can order lab tests as part of screening for CKD.

Risk Factors For Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

  • Diabetes (both type one and type two)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Family history of kidney failure (for example polycystic kidney disease)
  • Vascular disease (prior diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, stroke or transient ischemic attack or peripheral vascular disease)
  • Multisystem disease with potential kidney involvement (for example autoimmune diseases such as lupus)

Take note of the risk factors and consider being screened by your healthcare provider. Lastly, for those smokers out there, stop smoking! Smoking can result in faster decline in your kidney function.

Still looking for a clinical pharmacist? Here’s some thoughts about adding a clinical pharmacist to your healthcare team.