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Nephrology/Elevated Potassium Levels


Two years ago, routine blood work showed an elevated potassium level. My doctor said it's probably a lab error, repeat the test in a month.  We repeated the test and the result was normal.

Two months ago, my yearly blood work showed the potassium level was elevated. We retested last week and I got a call today saying the level was elevated (5.7), but it was probably a lab error we should repeat in a month.  I let the nurse that called know that this test was the repeat test from two months ago.  She said not to worry we should retest in a month.

Is it really possible for this to come back falsely high three times in two years?  I have no known health issues other than mild intermittent asthma.  I am 48 years old, 5'7" 155 lbs. I have no symptoms.  The only medication I take is Adderall 20mg and some vitamin supplements, (not potassium).

Should I ask for some kind of kidney function test at this point?  I want to be sure there isn't really an underlying problem causing this.

I do live in a very hot climate (Orlando, FL).  Is transporting blood to the lab affected by heat?  I would assume it's in a protected cooler or something.

Any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks for your question on Allexperts.

You are right to be concerned about your elevated potassium levels. Three false high values is one too many.

Please ask your primary care provider to refer you to a Nephrologist.


Dr. Shah


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Dr. Shamik Shah, MD, DNB (Nephrology), ISN Fellow


I can answer all questions related to kidney diseases, hypertension, plasmapheresis and kidney transplantation. I am an Indian-Board certified Nephrologist. I was a post-Doctoral Scholar at the Division of Nephrology & Hypertension,Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. My area of interest is Critical care Nephrology and Acute Kidney Injury.

Please mention the units in which your lab results were reported and the normal reference range for your laboratory.

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Ten years as a Critical Care & Transplant Nephrologist

International Society of Nephrology
Indian Society of Nephrology
Indian Medical Association
European Renal Association

- Shah SH, Cerda J. Acute Tubular Necrosis; Lerma, Edgar V., Rosner, Mitchell eds. Clinical Decisions in Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation. Springer ISBN 978-1-4614-4453-4, pp. 191-198
- Shah SH, Cerda J. Management of Acute Kidney Injury; Lerma, Edgar V., Rosner, Mitchell eds. Clinical Decisions in Nephrology, Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation. Springer ISBN 978-1-4614-4453-4
- Cerda J, Tolwani A, Shah SH, Ronco C. Continuous Renal Replacement Therapies in Modeling and Control of Dialysis Systems edited by Azar AT, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany (In Press)
- Shah SH, Cerda J, Kellum JA. Acute Kidney Injury in Special Circumstances. John Kellum, Jorge Cerda, eds. Renal and Metabolic Disorders, Oxford University Press (In press)
- Shah SH, Mehta RL. “Anticoagulation in CRRT: Is Citrate better?”; Vineet Nayyar Ed. Critical Care Update 2009, Jaypee Brothers (In press)
- Shah SH, Mehta RL. “Non-dialytic management of acute kidney disease”; Evidence based Nephrology, BMJ, (In press)
- Shah SH, Mehta RL. “Epidemiology of Community-acquired AKI”; Ronco C, Bellomo R, Kellum J Eds. Critical Care Nephrology, Saunders. ISBN 1-4160-4252-0
- Abdeen O, Shah SH, Mehta RL; “Dialysis therapies in the surgical intensive care unit”; William Wilson, Christopher Grande, David Hoyt Eds. Trauma: Resuscitation, Anesthesia, and Critical Care, Informa Healthcare, NY 2007. ISBN 0-8247-2920-X
- Shah SH, Mehta RL. Acute kidney injury in critical care: time for a paradigm shift? Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2006 Nov;15(6):561-5.
- Shah, SH, Soroko S, Lischer E, Mehta RL. Delivered vs. Prescribed dose of Dialysis in Hospitalized Patients: Results of an Audit. J Am Soc Nephrol 17(Abstracts Issue): 2006, 107A.
- Shah SH et al “Biochemical Nutritional Parameters in Non-vegetarian and Vegetarian CAPD patients” Perit Dial Int 2001; 21 Suppl 2: S1-182

MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine), Diplomate of National board (Nephrology), ISN Fellow

Awards and Honors
Educational Ambassador of the International Society of Nephrology 2010
Fellowship of the International Society of Nephrology 2005.
Young Investigator Award by the International Society of Peritoneal Dialysis 2001

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