Assessment of Electrolyte Replacement in Critically Ill Patients During a Drug Shortage

Lauren Freeman, Andrea Sikora Newsome, Ellen Huang, Erinn Rowe, Jennifer Waller, Christy Cecil Forehand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if national drug shortages of electrolyte replacement products negatively impact patient care. Methods: This study was a single-center, retrospective, observational cohort of adults admitted to the medical, surgical, or trauma intensive care unit (ICU) that were ordered or would have qualified for the general or continuous renal replacement therapy electrolyte replacement protocol (ERP) between April 2017 and August 2018. In October 2017, ERP use was suspended and enteral replacement was promoted due to inability to maintain consistent inventory of intravenous replacement products. The primary objective was to compare the percentage of patient days that at least 1 critically low value of potassium, magnesium, and/or phosphorus existed between protocolized and nonprotocolized electrolyte replacement. Secondary objectives included characterizing the ratio of enteral replacement to duration of critically low electrolyte values during protocolized and nonprotocolized electrolyte replacement. Results: A total of 288 patients were included. The mean percentage of ICU days with low electrolyte levels in the protocolized period was significantly higher than in the nonprotocolized period (21.4% vs 17.5%, P =.0238). There was a negative relationship between the total electrolyte replacement that was given enterally and the percentage of patient days with critically low values indicating that as enteral replacement increased, percentage of days with low values decreased. The association between percentage of enteral replacement and days with critically low electrolyte values was significantly lower in the protocolized period. Conclusion: Intravenous electrolyte replacement product shortages did not result in an increased incidence of critically low electrolyte values. Enteral replacement was associated with a decreased incidence of low electrolyte values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-301
Number of pages6
JournalHospital Pharmacy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • critical care
  • fluid and electrolyte disorders
  • medication safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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