Serum creatinine alone can be difficult to interpret as a measure of kidney function such that chronic kidney disease might be under-recognized in the general population. In the province of Ontario, Canada, all outpatient laboratories now report estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in addition to serum creatinine.
To determine the impact of this reporting on clinical practice, the authors linked health administrative data for more than eight million adults of age 25 years or older over an almost 10-year period and conducted a population-based intervention analysis with seasonal time-series modeling to determine overall trends in the number and type of patients seen by nephrologists. Compared to the period when only serum creatinines were reported, the number of patients seen in consultation by nephrologists increased after eGFR reporting by an average of 24% (an absolute increase of 2.9 consults per 100,000 adults), an increase of about 23 consults per nephrologist per year. The greatest increases were seen in women (39% increase) and those 80 years of age and older (58% increase).
This study found that eGFR reporting was associated with a sudden increase in the number of nephrology consults. However, it remains to be seen whether the routine reporting of eGFR results in improved treatment and outcomes for those with chronic kidney disease.