- To study the serum electrolyte results in the Northern Territory, to develop an understanding of if the results are affected by remoteness.
The measurement of serum electrolyte concentrations is important for the appropriate management of most adults with chronic non-communicable diseases, not least of which is chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD, and the medication used in its management, is associated with hyperkalaemia and acidosis. Unfortunately, these disturbances are also seen when whole blood samples are not collected, processed carefully or transported promptly from the place of collection. In remote communities of the Northern Territory such samples are usually collected by remote area nurses or Aboriginal Health Workers, spun, batched and flown every one to two days to central laboratories for measurement; in urban or regional areas, samples are usually collected by trained phlebotomists and transported to laboratories within a couple of hours.
Point-of-care testing devices to measure serum electrolytes and creatinine have recently become more available in remote communities of the Northern Territory but issues with maintenance, calibration and test cost reimbursement have limited their widespread use. Evidence is required if their use is to become more mainstream.