• There are conflicting recommendations regarding the use of intravenous potassium chloride infusions for acute correction of hypokalemia. We examined the effects of 495 sets of potassium chloride infusions administered to a medical intensive care unit population. The infusion sets consisted of one to eight consecutive individual infusions, each containing 20 mEq of potassium chloride in 100 mL of saline administered over 1 hour. In all, 1351 individual infusions were administered. The mean preinfusion potassium level was 3.2 mmol/L, and the mean postinfusion potassium level was 3.9 mmol/L. The mean increment in serum potassium level per 20-mEq infusion was 0.25 mmol/L. No temporally related life-threatening arrhythmias were noted; however, there were 10 instances of mild hyperkalemia. Our data endorse the relative safety of using concentrated (200-mEq/L) potassium chloride infusions at a rate of 20 mEq/h via central or peripheral vein to correct hypokalemia in patients in the intensive care unit.
(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:613-617)