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Fluid and electrolyte imbalances are associated with numerous complications, including increased morbidity and mortality, as well as increased hospital length of stay. Hospital patients needing IV fluids are very variable in terms of their fluid and electrolyte status and their likely responses to IV fluid therapy. Therefore, a full assessment is required by a competent clinician regarding the best content, volume and rate of IV fluids to be administered in order to minimize risks associated with fluid and electrolyte therapy (NICE 2013).

Patients have a valuable contribution to make to their fluid balance. If a patient needs IV fluids, the decision should be explained to them along with the signs and symptoms they need to look for if their fluid balance needs adjusting. If possible or when asked, provide written information (for example, NICE's Information for the public), and involve the patient's family members or carers (as appropriate) (NICE 2013).

Patient Stories

  • Near Fatal: A Patient Safety Story (Saskatchewan Health Authority - Saskatoon area, 2015)
  • Medication Error in the Hospital Kills Two-Year Old Emily Jerry. As told by Christopher S. Jerry (Patient Safety Movement, 2014)

    Emily Jerry was diagnosed with a yolk sac tumor about the size of a grapefruit when she was about 18 months old. Her doctors and nurses assured me that Emily's cancer was not only treatable, but curable…Sunday, Feb. 26, after the third day of her last chemotherapy treatment, Emily awoke from her nap groggy. She kept trying to sit up and asked her mom to hold her in her lap. She kept grabbing her head and moaning that it hurt…. She cried some more before she started screaming, "Mommy, my head, my head hurts! MY HEAD HURTS!"…Emily went completely limp and the nurses began to resuscitate her. Within the hour, my precious daughter was on life support.
      Emily wound up brain dead and on life support – essentially dead due to the massive brain damage she had incurred. Our Emily was killed by an overdose of sodium chloride in her chemotherapy IV bag… the full story here.