Patho Patho #12


The nurse is most concerned for which potential complication when a client’s K+ level is 2.8 mEq/L?


  1. fluid volume deficit.
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct because hypokalemia does not lead to a fluid volume deficit. Fluid volume deficit is associated with hypernatremia due to hemoconcentration.

  2. hypertension.
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct hypertension is not associated with hypokalemia. K+ affects electrical conduction of the heart rather but does not directly affect blood pressure.

  3. renal failure.
    • Rationale:

      This answer choice is not correct because hypokalemia does not lead to renal failure. Renal failure is associated with hyperkalemia due to renal retention of K+.

  4. dysrhythmias.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because hypokalemia can lead to dysrhythmias due to the effect of K+ on the electrical conduction of the heart. Hypokalemia can cause premature ventricular contractions and even ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.


The focus of this question is asking the nurse to determine the most critical potential complication of hypokalemia. A normal K+ level ranges from 3.5 mEq/L – 5.0 mEq/L. Hypokalemia can cause dysrhythmias which can be a deadly potential complication of a low K+ level.


Learning Outcomes

The majority of K+ lives inside cardiac cells so K+ plays a major role in cardiac function and contractility. When K+ is out of range, then dysrhythmias may result. A K+ level of 2.8 mEq/L is critically low which may lead to deadly dysrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation.

Test Taking Tip

When studying fluid and electrolytes, it is essential to learn the most critical potential complications of electrolyte imbalances as opposed to memorizing all signs and symptoms of each imbalance.

Video Rationale