What are possible causes of a low potassium level

Chapter 12, Pain Management
Mr. Rogers is 2 days postoperative of a thoracotomy for removal of a malignant mass in his left chest. His pain is being managed via an epidural catheter with morphine (an opioid analgesic). As the nurse assumes care of Mr. Rogers, he is alert and fully oriented, and states that his current pain is 2 on a 1-to-10 scale. His vital signs are 37.8 – 92 – 12, 138/82. (Learning Objective 6)
What are benefits of epidural versus systemic administration of opioids?

  1. The nurse monitors Mr. Rogers’ respiratory status and      vital signs every 2 hours. What is the rationale for these frequent      assessments?
  2. The nurse monitors Mr. Rogers for what other      complications of epidural analgesia?
  3. Mr. Rogers complains of a severe headache. What should      the nurse do?
  4. Mr. Rogers’ epidural morphine and decreased mobility      increase his chances of constipation. What interventions should be      included in his plan of care to minimize constipation?

Chapter 13, Fluid and Electrolytes: Balance and Disturbance
Mrs. Dean is 75-year-old woman admitted to the hospital for a small bowel obstruction. Her medical history includes hypertension. Mrs. Dean is NPO. She has a nasogastric (NG) tube to low continuous suction. She has an IV of 0.9% NS at 83 mL/hr. Current medications include furosemide 20 mg daily and hydromorphone 0.2 mg every 4 hours, as needed for pain. The morning electrolytes reveal serum potassium of 3.2 mEq/L. (Learning Objective 4)

  1. What are possible causes of a low potassium level?
  2. What action should the nurse take in relation to the      serum potassium level?
  3. What clinical manifestations might the nurse assess in      Mrs. Dean?