Medical Surgical Labs Electrolytes Top Tested #5

Question

The nurse receives lab studies back from her client with chronic kidney disease. Potassium is 2.6. Heart monitor reveals flat T-waves with ST depression and U waves. Which action by the nurse is most appropriate?

Answers

  1. Begin potassium IV via pump 10-20 mEq per hour.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because potassium should be given through an infusion set. It should be given over no less than one hour. If the arm starts burning, slow the infusion down. Never push potassium intravenously, as this can cause death.

  2. Begin potassium IV via pump 10-20 mEq per half hour.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because potassium should be given over one hour or more. This is to prevent dysrhythmias.

  3. Potassium IV via gravity infusion.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because potassium should be controlled through an infusion pump: Only 10-20 mEq per hour or more.

  4. Potassium through IV push.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because potassium should never be pushed intravenously. It should always be administered through an infusion pump of 10-20 mEq over one hour or more.

Overview

Hypokalemia is treated with potassium via IV infusion with a bag 10-20 mEq over one hour. Potassium is never pushed intravenously. This can result in instant death.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Potassium levels should be between 3.5-5.0. A potassium below 3.5 is called hypokalemia. ECG will show flat T-waves, ST depression, and U waves. Treatment is to begin potassium with the bag intravenously through an infusion pump over one hour or more. Giving it too quickly can result in dysrhythmias. Never push potassium through the IV. This can cause death.

Test Taking Tip

Remember that potassium “pumps” the muscles. If you give too much too fast, it can cause a dysrhythmia of the heart muscle and lead to death. Never give potassium IV push!

Video Rationale