Purpose The adherence to and effectiveness and safety of a timed, electronic, assessment-driven potassium-replacement protocol (TARP) were compared with an electronic nurse-driven replacement protocol (NRP) are reported.
Methods A retrospective observational study was conducted in a community hospital evaluating protocol adherence, effectiveness, and safety for 2 potassium-replacement protocols. All adults on medical units with an order for potassium replacement per protocol during the 3-month trial periods were reviewed. All patients requiring potassium replacement per protocol were included in the analysis. Adherence to the protocol was assessed by evaluating the dose of potassium administered and performance of reassessments. Effectiveness of the protocol was assessed by evaluating the time to achieve target potassium levels. Safety was assessed by evaluating the route of administration and occurrence of hyperkalemia.
Results A total of 300 patients treated using potassium-replacement protocols required potassium replacement during the study period, with 148 patients in the NRP group requiring 491 instances of potassium replacement. In the TARP group a total of 564 instances requiring potassium replacement corresponded to 152 patients. Of the 491 instances requiring replacement in the NRP group, the correct dose was administered and reassessment performed 117 times (23.8%). Overall adherence (p < 0.05), correct dose given (p < 0.05), average time from blood draw to potassium replacement (p < 0.0001), use of oral replacement (p < 0.05), and time to achieve target potassium level within 12 hours (p < 0.05) were significantly improved in the TARP group.
Conclusion The TARP improved the effectiveness and safety of potassium-replacement therapy over the traditional NRP without negatively affecting timeliness of care.
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