Potassium chloride is an electrolyte replacement that is given for potassium deficiency.

Potassium chloride can be given intravenously and orally. Do not ever give potassium chloride via IV push. IV potassium must always be diluted first.

Potassium balance is so important to monitor in pharmacology for nurses because it directly affects the heart. Check the potassium levels prior to administering potassium chloride! If the potassium level is too high, the physician should be aware. Observe if the serum potassium levels drop below 3.5 mEq/L or goes above 5.5 mEq/L. Because you’re administering potassium chloride, you’re more likely to see the serum potassium levels go above 5.5 mEq/L.

Stay away from salt substitutes, especially if you have renal failure or potassium retention.

Salt substitutes are high in potassium.

Side effects to watch out for with potassium chloride:

  • Dysrhythmias
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased reflexes
  • Cramps
  • Nausea/Vomiting

What can occur with potassium chloride administration:

  • Acute acidosis
  • Potassium shifts
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Ventricular tachycardia

Do not administer potassium chloride to anyone with hyperkalemia, renal failure, and Addision’s disease that has not been treated yet.

Signs of renal insufficiency in pharmacology for nurses:

  • Increased creatinine
  • Increased blood urea nitrogen

If the physician gives an order for a client with renal failure/insufficiency, question the order prior to administration. The physician must be aware that the client’s kidneys may not be able to handle potassium chloride and that toxicity can occur.

Should I take potassium chloride with any specific liquid?

  • Take potassium chloride with a full glass of water with meals. Client can wait until after meal to take the medication. Do not take potassium chloride before meals to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms. Nausea and vomiting can occur.