Implementation of a quality improvement strategy to increase outpatient kidney transplant referrals

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Background: Kidney transplantation remains the optimal therapy for patients with end stage kidney disease (ESKD), though a small fraction of patients on dialysis are on organ waitlists. An important barrier to both preemptive kidney transplantation and successful waitlisting is timely referral to a kidney transplant center. We implemented a quality improvement strategy to improve outpatient kidney transplant referrals in a single center academic outpatient nephrology clinic. Methods: Over a 3 month period (July 1-September 30, 2016), we assessed the baseline kidney transplantation referral rate at our outpatient nephrology clinic for patients 18-75 years old with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of less than 20 mL/min/1.73m2 (2 values over 90 days apart). Charts were manually reviewed by two reviewers to look for kidney transplant referrals and documentation of discussions about kidney transplantation. We then performed a root cause analysis to explore potential barriers to kidney transplantation. Our intervention began on July 1, 2017 and included the implementation of a column in the electronic medical record (EMR) which displayed the patient's last eGFR as part of the clinic schedule. In addition, physicians were given a document listing their patients to be seen that day with an eGFR of < 20 mL/min/1.73m2. Annual education sessions were also held to discuss the importance of timely kidney transplant referral. Results: At baseline, 54 unique patients with eGFR ≤20 ml/min/1.73 m2 were identified who were seen in the Clinic between July 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016. 29.6% (16) eligible patients were referred for kidney transplantation evaluation. 69.5% (37) of these patients were not referred for kidney transplant evaluation. 46.3% (25) did not have documentation regarding kidney transplant in the EMR. nephrologist's most recent note. Following the intervention, 66 unique patients met criteria for eligibility for kidney transplant evaluation. Kidney transplant referrals increased to 60.6% (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Our pilot implementation study of a strategy to improve outpatient kidney transplant referrals showed that a free, simple, scalable intervention can significantly improve kidney transplant referrals in the outpatient setting. This intervention targeted the nephrologist's role in the transplant referral, and facilitated the process of patient recognition and performing the referral itself without significantly interrupting the workflow. Next steps include further investigation to study the impact of early referral to kidney transplant centers on preemptive and living donor kidney transplantation as well as successful waitlisting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number192
JournalBMC Nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 May 2020


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