Everybody knows just how crucial electrolytes are for the body. Accurate electrolyte analysis and reliable results are critical for patient outcomes. To ensure error-free evaluation of electrolyte levels, clinical laboratories need to use high quality, well-calibrated electrolyte analyzers.
Electrolyte Analysis – Expert Opinion on Best Practices
A paper titled “Electrolytes: The Salts of the Earth” published this year in Medscape stresses that clinicians and laboratorians need to adhere to best laboratory practices in electrolyte analysis to ensure error-free, timely results. In addition to quality testing platforms, measures such as testing methodologies to reduce pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical errors and focus on following standard operating procedures are important.
Turnaround time (TAT) is another important consideration for urgent electrolyte-level testing orders. Laboratories should invest in platforms that can cater to quick electrolyte-test requests in minimal TAT. For instance, with EasyElectrolytes analyzers from industry leader Medica, measured results for Na+, K+, and Cl- in whole blood, serum, urine, and plasma are displayed and printed in 35 seconds on a 55 µL serum sample.
Laboratorians must also pay attention to the reliability of results. Preanalytical variables that impact electrolyte results such as type of anticoagulant, storage conditions, and hemolysis should be taken into account. Finally, as reference ranges for electrolytes differ across populations, geographical locations, methods, and other conditions, the institution of specific standardized reference ranges and critical values would be valuable when it comes to clinical decision making.
Maintaining Electrolyte Levels Helped Patients Survive Ebola
Electrolytes are chemical substances that create the electrical energy required for many bodily functions including muscular-function regulation, transmission of nerve impulses, enzyme activation, and maintaining acid base balance. Electrolyte replacement during exercise, strenuous activity, and sports is widely recognized as a necessary procedure.
Intensive fluid and electrolyte replacement is critical for Ebola patients. According to NBC News, the team at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta that treated Ebola survivors Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol reported that though the patients got better after receiving the first dose of an antibody cocktail, the supportive care they received with aggressive fluid and electrolyte replacement was just as important.
The Emory team said that while most Ebola patients die of multi-organ failure and septic shock, they believe electrolyte imbalance – the loss of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium because of constant, unending diarrhea and vomiting symptomatic of Ebola – could be responsible for the death of some patients. They reported that replacing electrolytes could save lives.