Medical Surgical Potassium K+ #10

Question

The nurse reviews the serum electrolyte levels for a client. Which result would the nurse immediately report to the health care provider?

Answers

  1. Calcium 8.9 mg/dL
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the normal range for serum calcium levels is 8.6 to 10.3 mg/dL; therefore, a level of 8.9 mg/dL is considered within the normal range and does not require the nurse to immediately report this finding to the health care provider.

  2. Sodium 138 mEq/L
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the normal range for serum sodium levels is 135 to 145 mEq/L; therefore, a level of 138 mEq/L is considered within the normal range and does not require the nurse to immediately report this finding to the health care provider.

  3. Potassium 2.1 mEq/L
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because the normal range for serum potassium levels is 3.5 to 5 mEq/L – levels below this range indicate hypokalemia, while levels above this range indicate hyperkalemia. This client’s laboratory report indicates significant hypokalemia; therefore, the nurse immediately reports this finding to the health care provider.

  4. Magnesium 1.8 mEq/L
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the normal range for serum magnesium levels is 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL; therefore, a level of 1.8 mg/dL is considered within the normal range and does not require the nurse to immediately report this finding to the health care provider.

Overview

An electrolyte imbalance is defined as an abnormality in the concentration of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. They help to regulate acid-base and fluid balance, cardiac and neurological function, and oxygen delivery. The nurse must know the normal ranges for common electrolytes in the body including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. A serum potassium level of 2.1 mEq/L is significantly low and indicates hypokalemia which can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, fatigue, digestive problems, and breathing difficulties; therefore, this is the result the nurse immediately reports to the health care provider.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the normal range for each electrolyte to answer this question correctly.

Video Rationale