Until recently, no uniform standard existed for diagnosing and classifying acute renal failure. To clarify diagnosis, the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative group stated its consensus on the need for a clear definition and classification system of renal dysfunction with measurable criteria. Today the term acute kidney injury has replaced the term acute renal failure, with an understanding that such injury is a common clinical problem in critically ill patients and typically is predictive of an increase in morbidity and mortality. A classification system, known as RIFLE (risk of injury, injury, failure, loss of function, and end-stage renal failure), includes specific goals for preventing acute kidney injury: adequate hydration, maintenance of renal perfusion, limiting exposure to nephrotoxins, drug protective strategies, and the use of renal replacement therapies that reduce renal injury.

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