Post-It Pearls: A Tip for More Rapid Potassium Infusions : Emergency Medicine News

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Post-It Pearls

Post-It Pearls

A Tip for More Rapid Potassium Infusions

Lin, Michelle MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000898224.14292.61
    potassium infusions, hypokalemia

    Potassium infusions for hypokalemia are rate-limited to 10 mEq/hr for peripheral IVs because of pain, extravasation, and phlebitis.

    Central lines, however, can infuse faster at rates of 20 mEq/hr and require cardiac monitoring.

    What if a critically ill patient needs more rapid repletion than 10 mEq/hr but does not have a central line? A trick of the trade involves placing two peripheral IVs each infusing 10 mEq/hr. These patients should be on a cardiac monitor.

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    Dr. Linis the founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Academic Life in Emergency Medicine ( and a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California San Francisco with interests in health professions education and digital scholarship. Follow her on Instagram@MichelleLinMDand on Twitter@M_Lin.

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    • mdpick12:56:24 PMBetter idea is to use the gut. I can give two separate 50 meq K+ fizzy drinks separated by about 20 minutes and recheck the potassium before your method gives 20 meq. Of course, the patient has to be able to take PO or have an NGT and be willing to drink it. Been using this for years, and it works great!