Help understanding reason for meds

  1. 0
    Hi, I'm a fairly new nurse on a telemetry floor. I am not sure at the reasoning for some medications administered to a newly admitted pt.

    The pt was ad,tired from ER for palpitations, sob, nausea, C/P.

    Hx: afib, HTN, no hx of DM.

    Labs: K+ 5.4, no other abnormal labs

    Meds given in ED:
    "Hyperkalemia cocktail"
    Potassium chloride
    Insulin 10units
    Amp. D50

    It was end of shift and my CN was already gone and the RN I asked for clarification with had no idea at the seeming counter productive med treatment. I go back tomorrow but was hoping someone could give me some clues. I'm not sure what I'm missing and of courses I feel like an idiot not beginning to see the sense of this.

    Thanks for your time.

    Kim
  2. 11 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    I'm also a new nurse working on a tele floor. I've seen this ordered many times for hyperkalemia. Insulin moves potassium back into the cells- in turn, lowering the serum potassium level- giving the kidneys time to excrete the potassium in the urine. The D50 is to prevent hypoglycemia (I think any way). Like I said- I've seen this ordered many times, it's pretty effective- however, I think the kayexalate seems to work better.... in my opinion any way.
  4. 2
    Are you sure the "potassium chloride" isn't calcium?

    I've given the insulin/D50/kayexalate combo with calcium lots of times... never given it with potassium.
    jrwest and Testa Rosa, RN like this.
  5. 0
    I thought she meant calcium as well!
  6. 0
    Just learned this in school, something about the insulin...helps the K rush into the cells out of the blood while it's taking the glucose with it.
  7. 0
    As for the calcium chloride, it helps "protect" the heart. The extracellular potassium is shifting into the cells thanks to the insulin, so this can potentially cause dysrhythmias.

    Typically, calcium gluconate is used in this "cocktail," as it is less irritating. Calcium gluconate contains 9mg/mL of calcium (10% solution) whereas calcium chloride contains 27mg/mL (10% solution).

    Also keep in mind that the insulin/D50/calcium gluconate combo is only temporary. Potassium will begin to leak back out of the cells after awhile. Therefore, the only definitive way to get rid of potassium is with Lasix, kayexalate or dialysis.
  8. 0
    It was def relayed and confirmed as K+ which added to the confusion. Thanks for the responses. I'll know next time, always a larking experience.
  9. 0
    D50 + insulin helps move potassium back in to the intracellular compartment and i guess it was calcium gluconate.
  10. 0
    Just a side note: in addition to the meds listed above, I've also given albuterol nebs to help lower a K > 7. The drop alone isn't drastic, but helps to treat hyperkalemia emergently in combination with the other meds.
  11. 0
    Quote from momRNmy
    Just a side note: in addition to the meds listed above, I've also given albuterol nebs to help lower a K > 7. The drop alone isn't drastic, but helps to treat hyperkalemia emergently in combination with the other meds.
    I have also given albuterol to help lower K+, though this isn't as popular as the other hyperkalemia cocktail.


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