Follow-up of markedly elevated serum potassium results in the ambulatory setting: Implications for patient safety

Carlton R. Moore, Jenny J. Lin, Nicky O'Connor, Ethan A. Halm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Failure to follow up outpatient test results in a timely manner is a growing patient safety concern. To investigate the follow-up of markedly elevated serum potassium levels in the ambulatory setting, the authors reviewed the medical records of all patients seen in a large primary care practice between September 1, 2003, and August 31, 2004, with potassium levels ≥5.8 mEq/L. Of the 12914 serum potassium tests performed, there were 109 cases of markedly elevated serum potassium levels in 86 patients. The median potassium level was 5.9 mEq/L (range, 5.8-7.3). More than half the patients were recalled to the clinic specifically for repeat testing; however, 25% of patients had no repeat tests until they were seen at routine follow-up visits. The median time to a repeat potassium level was 6 days (range, 0-445). Patients ≥65 years old had a lower likelihood of having repeat testing within 1 week (odds ratio = 0.38, P = .03).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006



  • Ambulatory
  • Follow-up
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Labs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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