Background: No previous study has been done to evaluate the admission serum potassium level as a predictor of morbidity or need for mechanical ventilation. The aim of this study is to determine the predictive ability of serum potassium on admission, in critically ill trauma patients, and to evaluate the relation of the potassium level to organ failure, length of stay, ventilator need, and duration of mechanical ventilation.
Materials and Methods: A prospective, observational study was done on 100 patients >16 years old, admitted to the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Units (ICU), for over one year. Patients were classified into Group A: Patients who required equal or less than five days of mechanical ventilation and Group B: Patients who required more than five days of mechanical ventilation. The total serum potassium concentrations were measured and the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score was recorded at the time of admission to the ICU, when connected to the ventilator, and then at the time of weaning from the ventilator.
Results: There was no significant difference between the Serum K concentrations between the two groups, on admission. However, there were significant difference between the Serum K concentrations at times of receiving and weaning from mechanical ventilation (MV) between the two groups. We found the best cut-off point of 3.45 for serum potassium concentration, to predict the need for longer duration of MV.
Conclusion: Development of hypokalemia during an ICU stay is associated with the need for mechanical ventilation. Monitoring of the serum potassium levels may be a good prognostic factor for the requirement of mechanical ventilation.
Vincent JL, Moreno R, Takala J, Willatts S, De Mendonça A, Bruining H, et al. The SOFA (Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment) score to describe organ dysfunction/failure. On behalf of the Working Group on Sepsis-Related Problems of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Intensive Care Med 1996;22:707-10.
Vincent JL, de Mendonça A, Cantraine F, Moreno R, Takala J, Suter PM, et al. Use of the SOFA score to assess the incidence of organ dysfunction/failure in intensive care units: Results of a multicenter, prospective study. Working group on"sepsis-related problems" of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Crit Care Med 1998;26:1793-800.