Estimating Kidney Failure Risk Using Electronic Medical Records

Felipe S. Naranjo, Yingying Sang, Shoshana H. Ballew, Nikita Stempniewicz, Stephan C. Dunning, Andrew S. Levey, Josef Coresh, Morgan E. Grams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background The four-variable kidney failure risk equation (KFRE) is a well-validated tool for patients with GFR <60 ml/min per 1.73 m 2 and incorporates age, sex, GFR, and urine albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR) to forecast individual risk of kidney failure. Implementing the KFRE in electronic medical records is challenging, however, due to low ACR testing in clinical practice. The aim of this study was to determine, when ACR is missing, whether to impute ACR from protein-to-creatinine ratio (PCR) or dipstick protein for use in the four-variable KFRE, or to use the three-variable KFRE, which does not require ACR. Methods Using electronic health records from OptumLabs Data Warehouse, patients with eGFR <60 ml/min per 1.73 m 2 were categorized on the basis of the availability of ACR testing within the previous 3 years. For patients missing ACR, we extracted urine PCR and dipstick protein results, comparing the discrimination of the three-variable KFRE (age, sex, GFR) with the four-variable KFRE estimated using imputed ACR from PCR and dipstick protein levels. Results There were 976,299 patients in 39 health care organizations; 59% were women, the mean age was 72 years, and mean eGFR was 47 ml/min per 1.73 m 2. The proportion with ACR testing was 19% within the previous 3 years. An additional 2% had an available PCR and 36% had a dipstick protein; the remaining 43% had no form of albuminuria testing. The four-variable KFRE had significantly better discrimination than the three-variable KFRE among patients with ACR testing, PCR testing, and urine dipstick protein levels, even with imputed ACR for the latter two groups. Calibration of the four-variable KFRE was acceptable in each group, but the three-variable equation showed systematic bias in the groups that lacked ACR or PCR testing. Conclusions Implementation of the KFRE in electronic medical records should incorporate ACR, even if only imputed from PCR or urine dipstick protein levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • albuminuria
  • chronic kidney disease
  • electronic health records
  • kidney failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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