IV Fluid Contents: Do you know your -ish?

More than 50% of residents do not know how much sodium is in 0.9% NaCl. I know you do, though… it’s 154mmol/L. Far more than our “normal” of 140mmol/L. You should know your IV fluid contents.

Why do I nag so much with intravenous fluids and their contents? Truth be told, I did not know my fluid composition as well as I should have even as an intern. I had an ICU attending, a mentor, now someone I’m fortunate to call a colleague, who would pimp the house staff on IV fluids and make us feel ashamed if we didn’t know the answer. He was right. My embarrassment was deserved. After all, these are substances that we are mindlessly pouring into our patients. The vast majority of clinicians, I’m not even talking about nurses, I AM REFERRING TO US DOCTORS, do not know what’s in these bags that are so easy to click in the EMR and order. We mindlessly just do it. I was embarrassed. I do not want you to feel the same way. I have been teaching fluids now for 4 years. It’s one of my passions. I have a talk that is complete and can present at any time of the day. I know it well. But I am always reading and adding to it. The talk is going to be one of the lectures I will be presenting in Hawaii in May of 2020. It will also be presented to the Department of Anesthesia at my hospital on October 20th of this year. I am currently brushing up that talk, adding and subtracting some things, and I ran into this study from 2001 which asked preregistration house officers and senior house officers (I guess that means interns and residents) about the composition of fluids amongst other things. I won’t go over the methodology but the training needs to start in medical school. Overall, 11.5% said their training in the matter was poor, 22% stated it was unsatisfactory. I have to agree with this 100%. I received ZERO training in med school regarding IVF. Since it’s something so ubiquitous in our daily practice of medicine, it’s something we need to do better. A lot better. If you are in medical school or residency, have you been trained in the contents of IV Fluid?


Link to the Abstract

Lobo, D.N., Dube, M.G., Neal, K.R., et al., 2001. Problems with solutions: drowning in the brine of an inadequate knowledge base. Clin. Nutr., 20(2):125-130.

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