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SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyDrug Reaction DataReferences
Potentially life-threatening emergency
Potassium chloride poisoning
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed
Potentially life-threatening emergency

Potassium chloride poisoning

Contributors: Casey Silver MD, Benjamin L. Mazer MD, MBA, Michael W. Winter MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Potassium chloride poisoning can occur with significant overdoses of oral or intravenous (IV) potassium supplementation, leading to hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia is defined as serum potassium greater than 5-5.5 mEq/L. When serum potassium reaches 7 mEq/L or higher, there is significant risk for acute life-threatening complications. Symptoms include paralysis or muscle weakness, chest palpitations, arrhythmias, and gastrointestinal distress.

Excess potassium is physiologically excreted by the kidneys. Therefore, serum potassium is much more likely to reach toxic levels in patients with significant renal disease. Due to gastrointestinal regulatory mechanisms, poisoning is more likely to occur with IV potassium administration.

Emergent treatment includes IV calcium, insulin, and bicarbonate. Albuterol, potassium-binding agents, and hemodialysis are sometimes used.

Codes

ICD10CM:
T50.3X4A – Poisoning by electrolytic, caloric and water-balance agents, undetermined, initial encounter

SNOMEDCT:
7895008 – Poisoning by drug AND/OR medicinal substance

Look For

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Other causes of hyperkalemia should be ruled out. These include:

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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References

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Last Reviewed:03/28/2019
Last Updated:03/28/2019
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Potentially life-threatening emergency
Potassium chloride poisoning
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A medical illustration showing key findings of Potassium chloride poisoning : Nausea/vomiting, Hyperkalemia, Heart palpitations, Arrhythmia, Peaked T waves, potassium chloride
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