A seventy year old women with chronic but well managed heart disease had a fall in her home.

The ambulance were called, and took her to hospital. An x-ray revealed a broken hip. She went for surgery the following day. Several days after the operation, the woman developed difficulty breathing.

When nurses checked her oxygen saturation they found it was low. The doctors were advised, and a chest x-ray was ordered. It turned out she had fluid in her lungs, possibly from a flair up of her chronic heart problem.

The treatment prescribed was a drug called lasix. It pulls fluid out of the body, and passes it out through the kidneys. In order to get the fluid out of her lungs quickly, it was given via a vein.

After several days of this treatment, the fluid in her lungs disappeared. Her breathing became normal and her oxygen saturation levels were excellent. Everyone was happy. However, no one checked her blood electrolyte levels.

The women experienced a cardiac arrest, and went into ventricular fibrillation (a dangerous heart rhythm). A code blue was called, the emergency team arrived and she was taken to a coronary care unit.

Blood tests revealed she had a low blood potassium level. Low potassium levels were a well known side effect of the drug lasix. Her stay in hospital was extended, as she spent time in Coronary Care, then went back to the ward to be monitored. Her rehabilitation was slow, after spending over a month in hospital.

© Wikihospitals 2014