Medical Surgical Potassium K+ #17

Question

The nurse reviews a client’s recent laboratory values. For which reason should the nurse suspect the client is a risk for developing a deficit in serum potassium?

Answers

  1. Has renal failure.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because renal (i.e., kidney) failure increases the risk for hyperkalemia, not hypokalemia. The client that requires nasogastric suctioning is at risk for hypokalemia, or low levels of potassium with the body.

  2. Is prescribed spironolactone.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because diuretics are prescribed to remove excess fluid from the body. Some diuretics are potassium-sparing (e.g., spironolactone) while other flush potassium from the body (e.g., furosemide); therefore, this prescription will not increase the client’s risk for hypokalemia.

  3. Requires nasogastric suction.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because nasogastric suction increases the risk for developing hypokalemia. Nasogastric suction is used to remove any solids, liquids, or gasses from the stomach or small intestines, which will pull potassium-rich substances from the client before they can be absorbed by the body.

  4. Has a history of Addison's disease.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because Addison’s disease increases the client’s risk for hyperkalemia, not hypokalemia. With Addison’s disease, aldosterone is low which causes the body to lose huge amounts of sodium plus retain potassium.

Overview

Hypokalemia is the term used when a client experiences low levels of potassium in the blood. The client that requires nasogastric suctioning is at risk for hypokalemia, or low levels of potassium with the body.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Potassium is an important electrolyte for nerve and muscle cell functioning, especially for muscle cells in the heart. The kidneys control the levels of potassium within the body allowing for excess potassium to leave the body through urine or sweat. There are many different causes for alterations in serum potassium levels, including gastrointestinal issues (e.g., diarrhea, gastric suctioning, vomiting), poor adrenal function, kidney failure, and medications. Somes of these issues result in hyperkalemia while others result in hypokalemia. The client that requires nasogastric suctioning is at risk for hypokalemia, or low levels of potassium with the body.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the impact that each choice has on serum potassium levels to answer this question correctly.

Video Rationale