Electrolytes Question #8


A client with a nasogastric tube is prescribed irrigations once per shift. The client has a serum potassium level of 4.5 mEq/L and a sodium level of 132 mEq/L. Based on these laboratory findings, which solution should the nurse use to irrigate the nasogastric tube?


  1. Tap water
  2. Sterile water
  3. Sodium chloride
  4. Distilled water


The correct answer is C. A sodium level of 132 mEq/L is low or hyponatremia. Using sodium chloride to irrigate the nasogastric tube will help bring the serum sodium level to an acceptable level. Tap, sterile, or distilled water will dilute the body sodium further in the body and cause the serum sodium level to drop lower.

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.