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The Utility of Routine Electrolytes in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia Presenting with an Acute Pain Crisis

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DOI: 10.4236/ojcd.2014.41005    3,622 Downloads   6,512 Views  
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ABSTRACT

Background: The evaluation of sickle cell vaso-occlusive crisis may include the measurement of the patient’s CBC and reticulocyte count. Twelve clinical criteria have been previously published for patients at risk for electrolyte abnormalities, but a chemistry panel is often ordered as well occasionally without a true indication. Objectives: Our objective was to determine whether routine measurement of electrolytes can be safely avoided in patients with SCA who present to the ED with an acute painful crisis. Methods: This was a retrospective study of patients with SCA who presented with a painful crisis. All visits were considered separately. All medical records were reviewed for any electrolyte abnormalities and any treatment(s). Patients with an electrolyte abnormality had their medical record screened for the presence of specific criteria, and if any interventions or consultations were performed due to the results. Results: One hundred twenty-two unique patients were found to have one or more abnormal laboratory value over a total of 337 distinct patient visits, with a total of 686 abnormal values. Of these, only 2 laboratory values caused a change in treatment or disposition, both of which were replacement of potassium for hypokalemia. There were no consultations from the ED to any service other than the admitting team in any of the 337 distinct patient visits. Conclusions: For SCA patients presenting to the ED with a painful vaso-occlusive crisis, measuring electrolytes in the absence of another more specific and established clinical reason, is very likely unnecessary and can be safely avoided.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

K. Desai, B. (2014) The Utility of Routine Electrolytes in Patients with Sickle Cell Anemia Presenting with an Acute Pain Crisis. Open Journal of Clinical Diagnostics, 4, 22-26. doi: 10.4236/ojcd.2014.41005.

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