The nurse is reviewing morning labs for a client. Which lab value requires immediate intervention by the nurse?

  • calcium 9.8 mg/dL
  • sodium 137 mEq/L
  • chloride 104 mEq/L
  • potassium 3.1 mEq/L
Number 4 is correct.
Normal potassium ranges from 3.5 to 5 mEq/L. Hypokalemia can manifest with weak peripheral pulses, orthostatic hypotension, diminished breath sounds, lethargy, confusion, and coma. EKG changes include ST depression and T wave changes. Severe hypokalemia (less than 2.5 mEq/L) can cause death without emergent treatment. The health care provider should be notified for orders. The other laboratory findings are within normal limits.