Acute kidney injury (AKI) is increasing in incidence globally. This report presents the first national statistical snapshot on AKI and its impact in Australia.

Australian hospital and mortality data have been used to assess the burden of AKI. This report examines AKI as both the main and/or an associated cause of hospitalisations and deaths to present a more complete picture of the burden of AKI in Australia. The key findings highlight the substantial hospitalisations and deaths associated with AKI and the related inequalities that exist in the Australian population.

In 2012-13, there were around 131,780 hospitalisations for AKI (as the principal and/or an additional diagnosis). The average length of stay for AKI hospitalisations was 11.4 days, which was twice as long as the average length of stay for hospitalisations overall (5.6 days).

In 2012, there were around 5,160 deaths where AKI was recorded as the underlying or an associated cause of death.

AKI hospitalisations (as a principal diagnosis) more than doubled between 2000-01 and 2012-13 (from 8,050 to 18,010), an average increase of 6% per year. Despite this large increase in AKI hospitalisations, deaths due to AKI have remained relatively similar over the last decade (an average of 4,670 deaths per year between 2000 and 2012).

Hospitalisation and death rates for AKI increase rapidly with age, with the majority occurring in those aged 65 and over. For example, AKI hospitalisations for those aged 85 and over were at least 4 times those in the 65-74 age group.

Males had higher rates of AKI hospitalisations (as an additional diagnosis) and deaths than females (at least 40% higher). For hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of AKI, rates for males and females were similar.

Those living in Very remote areas of Australia generally have a higher burden of AKI. For hospitalisations for AKI as a principal diagnosis and for AKI deaths, people living in Very remote areas had hospitalisation and death rates at least 1.5 times as high as those living in Major cities.

This differed for AKI hospitalisations as an additional diagnosis, where people living in Major cities or Very remote areas were hospitalised at around 1.3 times the rate of those living in Inner regional, Outer regional and Remote areas.

People living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas had higher AKI hospitalisation and death rates. For hospitalisations for AKI as a principal diagnosis, rates in the lowest socioeconomic group were almost twice as high as in the highest group. For AKI hospitalisations as an additional diagnosis and for AKI deaths-rates were 1.3 times as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest group.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status was associated with higher hospitalisation and mortality rates. Hospitalisation and death rates for AKI were at least twice as high among Indigenous Australians compared to Other Australians/non-Indigenous Australians.