Medical Surgical Potassium K+ #6

Question

A client has been vomiting and has had numerous episodes of diarrhea. Which laboratory test should the nurse monitor?

Answers

  1. Serum sodium.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because serum sodium levels are not depleted with emesis and diarrhea. Potassium is lost with vomiting and diarrhea.

  2. Serum calcium.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because serum calcium levels are not depleted with emesis and diarrhea. Potassium is lost with vomiting and diarrhea.

  3. Serum potassium.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because potassium is an electrolyte that can be depleted when the client experiences vomiting and diarrhea and result in potentially life-threatening complications due to cardiac dysrhythmia.

  4. Serum phosphorus.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because serum phosphorus levels are not depleted with emesis and diarrhea.

Overview

Electrolytes are minerals in the body that have an electric charge. Sodium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus are all electrolytes.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Sodium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus are all electrolytes. The amount of water that you take in should equal the amount you lose. The serum electrolyte levels can become altered when the amount of water in the body changes resulting in either dehydration or overhydration. A large amount of potassium can be lost through emesis and diarrhea; therefore, the serum potassium level should be monitored to detect adverse effects of hypokalemia to include cardiac dysrhythmias.

Test Taking Tip

Consider the complications associated with the depletion of serum electrolytes to answer this question correctly.

Video Rationale