Real-World Management of Hyperkalemia in the Emergency Department: An Electronic Medical Record Analysis Article

Full Text via DOI: 10.1007/s12325-021-02017-w Web of Science: 000734694800001
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Cited authors

  • Davis J, Israni R, Betts KA, Mu F, Cook EE, Anzalone D, Szerlip H, Yin L, Uwaifo GI, Wu EQ


  • Introduction Hyperkalemia is often managed in the emergency department (ED) and it is important to understand how ED management and post-discharge outcomes vary by hyperkalemia severity. This study was conducted to characterize ED management and post-discharge outcomes across hyperkalemia severities. Methods Adults with an ED visit with hyperkalemia (at least one serum potassium lab measure above 5.0 mEq/L) were selected from US electronic medical record data (2012-2018). Patient characteristics, potassium levels, treatments, and monitoring prior to and during the ED visit were compared by hyperkalemia severity (mild [> 5.0-5.5 mEq/L], moderate [> 5.5-6.0], severe [> 6.0]) using unadjusted analyses. Death, immediate inpatient admission, 30-day hyperkalemia recurrence, and 30-day inpatient admission were also assessed by severity. Results Of 6222 patients included, 4432 (71.2%) had mild hyperkalemia, 1085 (17.4%) had moderate, and 705 (11.3%) had severe hyperkalemia. Chronic kidney disease (39.9-50.1%) and heart failure (21.6-24.3%) were common. In the ED, electrocardiograms (mild, 56.5%; moderate, 69.6%; severe, 81.0%) and patients with at least two potassium laboratory values increased with severity (15.0%; 40.4%; 75.5%). Among patients with at least two potassium laboratory values, over half of patients (60.4%) had potassium levels <= 5.0 mEq/L prior to discharge. Use of potassium-binding treatments (sodium polystyrene sulfonate: mild = 4.1%; moderate = 17.1%; severe = 27.4%), temporizing agents (5.6%; 15.5%; 31.6%), or dialysis (0.4%; 0.8%; 3.0%) increased with severity; treatment at discharge was not common. Death (1.1%; 3.7%; 10.6%), immediate admission to inpatient care (5.8%; 8.7%; 12.7%), 30-day hyperkalemia recurrence (2.9%; 19.0%; 32.5%), 30-day inpatient admission with hyperkalemia (6.5%; 7.9%; 9.3%) also increased with severity. Conclusion Patients with moderate and severe hyperkalemia experienced elevated risk of hyperkalemia recurrence and hyperkalemia-related inpatient readmission following discharge from the ED from a descriptive analysis. Future research to assess strategies to reduce hyperkalemia recurrence and inpatient admission in this patient population would be beneficial.

Publication date

  • 2021

Published in

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0741-238X

Number of pages

  • 12