Electrolytes Question #34


The nurse is evaluating the serum laboratory results on four clients. Which laboratory result should the nurse report first?


  1. A client with osteoporosis and a calcium level of 10.6 mg/dl
    • Rationale:
  2. A client with renal failure and a magnesium level of 2.5 mEq/L
    • Rationale:
  3. A client with bulimia and a potassium level of 3.6 mEq/L
    • Rationale:
  4. A client with dehydration and a sodium level of 149 mEq/L
    • Rationale:



The correct answer is D. Due to the fact that the sodium level generally goes up with dehydration, a sodium level of 149 mEq/L is elevated, and may continue to rise. A normal potassium level is between 3.5 to 5.5 mEq/L, making a level of 3.6 mEq/L within the normal range. And the serum calcium level of 10.6 mg/dL is considered normal because the range is 9 to 11 mg/dL. A normal serum magnesium level is between 1.5 to 2.5 mEq/L. The client with a serum magnesium level of 2.5 mEq/L is at the upper limit of normal.

NCLEX TIP: Using critical thinking is recommended when reading priority questions. Recognizing key words in the answer choices will allow you to know how to choose the correct answer for the question. Go through each answer choice and decide is it: Maslow’s hierarchy, safety-related, or following the nursing process (ADPIE). Never complete a nursing action that is outside the scope of practice.

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