Treatment of hyperkalemia with a low-dose insulin protocol is effective and results in reduced hypoglycemia
McNicholas, Bairbre A.
Pham, Mai H.
Chen, Chang Huei
Anderson, Arthur Eric
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McNicholas, Bairbre A. Pham, Mai H.; Carli, Katrina; Chen, Chang Huei; Colobong-Smith, Nancy; Anderson, Arthur Eric; Pham, Hien (2017). Treatment of hyperkalemia with a low-dose insulin protocol is effective and results in reduced hypoglycemia. Kidney International Reports 3 (2), 328-336
Introduction: Complications associated with insulin treatment for hyperkalemia are serious and common. We hypothesize that, in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD), giving 5 units instead of 10 units of i.v. regular insulin may reduce the risk of causing hypoglycemia when treating hyperkalemia. Methods: A retrospective quality improvement study on hyperkalemia management (K+ &gt;= 6 mEq/l) from June 2013 through December 2013 was conducted at an urban emergency department center. Electronic medical records were reviewed, and data were extracted on presentation, management of hyperkalemia, incidence and timing of hypoglycemia, and whether treatment was ordered as a protocol through computerized physician order entry (CPOE). We evaluated whether an educational effort to encourage the use of a protocol through CPOE that suggests the use of 5 units might be beneficial for CKD/ESRD patients. A second audit of hyperkalemia management from July 2015 through January 2016 was conducted to assess the effects of intervention on hypoglycemia incidence. Results: Treatments ordered using a protocol for hyperkalemia increased following the educational intervention (58 of 78 patients [74%] vs. 62 of 99 patients [62%]), and the number of CKD/ESRD patients prescribed 5 units of insulin as per protocol increased (30 of 32 patients [93%] vs. 32 of 43 [75%], P = .03). Associated with this, the incidence of hypoglycemia associated with insulin treatment was lower (7 of 63 patients [11%] vs. 22 of 76 patients [28%], P = .03), and there were no cases of severe hypoglycemia compared to the 3 cases before the intervention. Conclusion: Education on the use of a protocol for hyperkalemia resulted in a reduction in the number of patients with severe hypoglycemia associated with insulin treatment.