Factors associated with time to follow-up of severe hyperkalemia in the ambulatory setting

Carlton Moore, Jenny Lin, Thomas McGinn, Ethan Halm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background. Few studies have investigated the time it takes physicians to follow up abnormal outpatient laboratory results. Methods. Medical record review of all adult patients seen at a primary care practice between January 2002 and December 2005 with serum potassium results < 6.0 mEq/L. We used a proportional hazards model to assess factors associated with time to follow-up for episodes of hyperkalemia. Results. 259 of 48 333 serum potassium results met inclusion criteria. The median follow-up time was 3 days; after 30 days, 10% of cases had no follow-up. Residing in the same zip code as the clinic (HR = 1.39; P =.029), degree of hyperkalemia (HR = 2.97; P < .001), and renal insufficiency (HR = 1.41; P =.015) were associated with decreased time to repeat testing. Conversely, African Americans (HR =.51; P =.007) had increased time to repeat testing. Conclusions. Follow-up of abnormal laboratory results in outpatients is suboptimal and research is needed to better understand factors that delay follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Abnormal tests
  • Ambulatory
  • Follow-up
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Medical errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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