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POTASSIUM DEPLETION IN SURGICAL PATIENTS

RICHARD PATTON, M.D.; EDWIN H. ELLISON, M.D.; E. T. BOLES, M.D.; ROBERT M. ZOLLINGER, M.D.
AMA Arch Surg. 1952;64(5):726-732. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1952.01260010744021.
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THE SURGICAL patient needs water and salt, calories and proteins, and he suffers if these needs are not fulfilled. Similarly he requires potassium, and serious manifestations may be expected when a depletion of potassium exists. The theoretical and clinical basis for potassium administration has been well established by other observers.1 With the use of the flame photometer, potassium studies on surgical patients were begun in January of 1950. For the first four months routine daily potassium levels were obtained on practically all surgical patients. Profound deficits were encountered which were not rapidly corrected by our early attempts at treatment. Disturbing and serious manifestations of potassium deficits were observed, and certain causative factors were seen to be common to patients depleted of potassium. Confidence in the safety and effectiveness of potassium replacement grew rapidly. If a few simple rules of potassium therapy are followed, there should be few cases of

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