Background: Contemporary emergency department (ED) standard-of-care treatment of hyperkalemia is poorly described.
Objective: Our aim was to determine the treatment patterns of hyperkalemia management in the ED.
Methods: This multicenter, prospective, observational study evaluated patients aged ≥ 18 years with hyperkalemia (potassium [K+] level ≥ 5.5 mmol/L) in the ED from October 25, 2015 to March 30, 2016. K+-lowering therapies and K+ were documented at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 h after initial ED treatment. The primary end point was change in K+ over 4 h.
Results: Overall, 203 patients were enrolled at 14 U.S.-based sites. The initial median K+ was 6.3 (interquartile range [IQR] 5.7-6.8) mmol/L and median time to treatment was 2.7 (IQR 1.9-3.5) h post-ED arrival. Insulin/glucose (n = 130; 64%) was frequently used to treat hyperkalemia; overall, 43 different treatment combinations were employed within the first 4 h. Within 4 h, the median K+ for patients treated with medications alone decreased from 6.3 (IQR, 5.8-6.8) mmol/L to 5.3 (4.8-5.7) mmol/L, while that for patients treated with dialysis decreased from 6.2 (IQR 6.0-6.6) mmol/L to 3.8 (IQR 3.6-4.2) mmol/L. Hypoglycemia occurred in 6% of patients overall and in 17% of patients with K+ > 7.0 mmol/L. Hyperkalemia-related electrocardiogram changes were observed in 23% of all patients; 45% of patients with K+ > 7.0 mmol/L had peaked T waves or widened QRS. Overall, 79% were hospitalized; 3 patients died.
Conclusions: Hyperkalemia practice patterns vary considerably and, although treatment effectively lowered K+, only dialysis normalized median K+ within 4 h.
Keywords: emergency department; hyperkalemia; observational study; potassium levels; treatment patterns.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.