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March 1990

Rapid Correction of Hypokalemia Using Concentrated Intravenous Potassium Chloride Infusions

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine and Detroit Receiving Hospital, Detroit, Mich.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(3):613-617. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390150101019

• There are conflicting recommendations regarding the use of intravenous potassium chloride infusions for acute correction of hypokalemia. We examined the effects of 495 sets of potassium chloride infusions administered to a medical intensive care unit population. The infusion sets consisted of one to eight consecutive individual infusions, each containing 20 mEq of potassium chloride in 100 mL of saline administered over 1 hour. In all, 1351 individual infusions were administered. The mean preinfusion potassium level was 3.2 mmol/L, and the mean postinfusion potassium level was 3.9 mmol/L. The mean increment in serum potassium level per 20-mEq infusion was 0.25 mmol/L. No temporally related life-threatening arrhythmias were noted; however, there were 10 instances of mild hyperkalemia. Our data endorse the relative safety of using concentrated (200-mEq/L) potassium chloride infusions at a rate of 20 mEq/h via central or peripheral vein to correct hypokalemia in patients in the intensive care unit.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:613-617)