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Clinical outcomes associated with the emergency treatment of hyperkalaemia with intravenous insulin-dextrose.

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Humphrey, Toby JL 
James, Glen 
Wilkinson, Ian B 
Hiemstra, Thomas F 


BACKGROUND: Hyperkalaemia occurs in up to 10% of hospital admissions but its treatment in the emergency setting is inconsistent. OBJECTIVES: To describe the emergency management of hyperkalaemia in adults with insulin-dextrose (IDex) and to explore clinical outcomes associated with IDex treatment. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cohort study using comprehensive electronic health records of all emergency admissions to a large university hospital in the United Kingdom between April 2015 and August 2018. PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients aged ≥16 years with at least one emergency admission and one blood potassium result during the study period. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Emergency hyperkalaemia treatment was evaluated including the requirement for re-treatment with IDex, episodes of glucose dysregulation, intensive care (ICU) admission and length of hospital stay. Associations with hyperkalaemia, adverse events and IDex treatment were explored by logistic regression. RESULTS: Amongst 211,993 patients attending the Emergency Department (ED) we identified 11,107 hyperkalaemic adult patients, of whom 1,284 were treated with IDex. Multiple doses were required in 542 patients (42.2%). Hypoglycaemia (plasma glucose < 4 mmol/L) occurred in 249 patients (19.4%) within 6 hours of IDex. Repeated doses were associated with an increased risk of hypoglycaemia (OR 2.94, 95% CI 2.20 to 3.93) compared to patients receiving a single dose, which, after adjustment was also associated with an increased risk of death (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.09) during the study period. Patients who received multiple doses of IDex (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6-3.1) and those who received a dose of insulin above the guideline recommended limit (OR 5.6 3.1-10.3) were more likely to be admitted to ICU following IDex than those who received a single dose or the guideline recommended dose of insulin. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This study provides novel insight into the emergency management of hyperkalaemia in a large population, demonstrates the high risk of hypoglycaemia and highlights the urgent need for an improved, evidence-based approach to the emergency management of hyperkalaemia.



General medicine, Hyperkalaemia, Hypoglycaemia, Insulin dextrose, Internal medicine, Adult, Cohort Studies, Emergency Treatment, Glucose, Humans, Hyperkalemia, Insulin

Journal Title

Eur J Intern Med

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Elsevier BV