Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Potential medical impact of unrecognized in vitro hypokalemia due to hemolysis: a case series.

OBJECTIVES: The destruction of red cells during blood collection or with the processing of the sample continues to occur at a high rate, especially among emergency department (ED) patients. This can produce pre-analytical laboratory errors, particularly for potassium. We determined the incidence of hemolyzed samples and discuss the potential medical impact for hypokalemic patients who potassium level is artificially normal (pseudoeukalemia).

METHODS: Potassium results were obtained for a 6-month period. Using a measured hemolysis index (HI), hemolysis was present in 3.1 % for all potassium ordered (n=94,783) and 7.5 % for ED orders (n=22,770). Most of these samples were reported as having high normal result or were hyperkalemic. There were 22 hemolytic samples with a potassium of <3.5 mmol/L, and 57 hemolytic samples with a potassium in lower limit of normal (3.5-3.8 mmol/L). From this group, we examined the medical histories of 8 selected patients whose initially normal potassium levels were subsequently confirmed to have a potassium values that were below, at, or just above the lower limit of normal due to hemolysis.

RESULTS: The primary complaint for these patients were: necrotizing soft tissue infection, pancreatitis, volume overload from heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, hypertension treated with hydrochlorothiazide, and presence of a short bowel syndrome. A subsequent non-hemolyzed sample was collected demonstrating hypokalemia in all of these patients. Within these cases, there was a potential for harm had hemolysis detection not been performed.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate the medical importance of detecting hemolysis for patients who have pseudoeukalemia. This is relevant because the HI cannot be obtained when electrolytes are tested using whole blood samples, and a normal potassium may lead to inappropriate patient management.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app