UCSF Navigation Bar

UCSF Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Home Page

Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

Lab Manual for SFGH

Internal Resources

Click here for more information about laboratory operations and procedures

If you have additional questions regarding this test, please call: 415-353-1667

Search Our Test Menu

Potassium, Plasma / Serum

Item Value
Test Update Information Effective November 4, 2015, the potassium reference range for patients 1 year and older has been modified to 3.5-5.1 mmol/L due to changing from serum to plasma as the preferred sample type. It is known that plasma potassium levels run about 0.3 mmol/L lower than serum samples which has been verified by in house studies.
Approval req'd? No
Available Stat? Yes
Test code K
Test group Potassium
Performed by Parnassus, Mission Bay & Mt. Zion Chemistry
In House Availability Test available 24 hours per day 7 days per week
Method Ion selective electrode (ISE)
Container type Light green top preferred, Gold top acceptable
Amount to Collect 1 mL blood
Click here for Microdetermination info
Sample type Plasma or serum
Preferred volume 0.5 mL plasma or serum
Min. Volume 0.2 mL plasma or serum
Click here for Microdetermination info
Units mmol/L
Normal range
< 1 year 3.2-6.0 mmol/L
> 1 year 3.5-5.1 mmol/L

1. Normal range for infants 0 to <1 year adopted from Soldin, Steven J., "Pediatric Reference Intervals", 6th edition, AACC Press, 2007, method 4.
2. Adult range used for children >1 year old.
3. Normal range for adults was determined by testing 271 male and female healthy blood donors at UCSF with the lower limits of normal adjusted to encompass results from plasma specimens.
Critical value < 3.0 mmol/L or > 6.0 mmol/L
Synonyms K; K+; Electrolytes
Stability Room temperature 8 hours, refrigerated 2 days, frozen at -20C 1 week
Turn around times STAT 1 hour, Routine 4 hours
Additional information Hemolysis may artifactually increase the result. Levels in serum are normally 0.3 mmol/L higher than plasma levels due to liberation of potassium by platelets during clotting (c. 0.07 mmol/L per 100K platelets). Thus not only hemolysis but thrombocytosis can falsely elevate potassium levels, which can be circumvented by measuring plasma rather than serum potassium. Values < 1.5 or > 12 are automatically reassayed.
CPT coding 84132
LOINC code 2823-3
Last Updated 6/22/2016 12:44:18
Entry Number 766
Lab Procedure Link Click here for Procedure
UCSF home page UCSF home page About UCSF Search UCSF UCSF Medical Center