April 2000

New Potassium Chloride Storage Procedure to Improve Patient Safety

To improve patient safety, Catholic Health Initiatives has asked all market-based organizations to store supplies of concentrated potassium chloride and potassium phosphate injectables in pharmacy departments only, not in patient care units.

"The leading cause of death related to medication use is the inappropriate administration of concentrated potassium solutions," said Hal Ray, MD, chief medical officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. "In addition, eight of ten deaths related to the infusion of concentrated potassium chloride injections involve the administration of a product stored in a patient care unit."

By storing concentrated potassium
products only in pharmacy departments, market-based organizations can assure a safer environment for patients. "This action removes a medication from patient care units that can result in preventable fatal patient outcomes when it is administered inappropriately," said Ray. "Implementation of this standard is a means to improve the quality of patient care by improving patient safety."

Catholic Health Initiatives’ Cincinnati office will act as a reference site for policies pertaining to the safe storage of concentrated potassium products and to the safe administration of those products to assure optimal therapy outcomes.