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Medication sick day guidelines to keep kidneys healthy

Launch of a new guidance card in the Northern area to help people keep their kidneys healthy.
Launching a new guidance card to help people keep their kidneys healthy in the Northern area are (from left): Louise Sloan, renal nurse specialist, Antrim Area Hospital’s renal unit; Dr Brian Connor, ICP GP lead for diabetes, Northern area; Una O’Farrell, ICP pharmacist lead, Anne Marie O’Boyle, business manager, and Thelma Swann, project support manager, Northern area Integrated Care Partnership.

Did you know that anyone living with diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease is particularly vulnerable when they become unwell? Some medications should be stopped temporarily during periods of sickness eg vomiting, diarrhoea or a high temperature.

Continuing to take some medications and not following this advice can lead to potentially serious side effects during your illness which could damage your kidneys. This is known as Acute Kidney Injury or AKI. It is common and normally happens as a complication of another serious illness such as infection or severe dehydration.

A new initiative aimed at promoting kidney health has been launched by Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) and funded by the Health and Social Care Board.

Integrated Care Partnerships bring together healthcare professionals from a range of organisations including the local health and social care Trust, community and voluntary organisations, patients and carers, all of whom have assisted in designing the new initiative.

As part of the initiative, we plan to increase the number of Medication Sick Day Guidelines cards given to those patients with relevant conditions. These cards aim to raise awareness about stopping certain long-term medications during dehydrating illnesses and what to do should you become unwell.

Patients living with certain conditions detailed above will receive the card from their healthcare professional.

The cards will be available in hospitals, outpatient clinics, community pharmacists and GP surgeries.

Dr Brian Connor, ICP lead for diabetes, said: “It is important that everyone living with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease understand that they should stop taking some of their medications when they become unwell with vomiting, diarrhoea or a high temperature. Patients can contact their community pharmacist, practice nurse, practice based pharmacist or GP for further guidance.”

Kidney Care UK’s Northern Ireland ambassador, Jo-Anne Dobson, who donated her kidney to her 26-year-old son Mark, is supporting the campaign.

“As a mother of a kidney patient I know just how important Mark’s medications are to him and his long-term health. However, it’s equally important for us to realise that medicine that is designed to keep him well can also result in side effects if he’s sick.

“Having the right advice when you become sick is crucially important and I commend the health and Social Care Board and the Northern Trust on their important work to increase awareness amongst patients on this issue.”