NICE have published an Intravenous fluid therapy quality standard with the aims of reducing harm to patients from mistakes with intravenous fluid therapy, improving patient experience, improving the reporting of mistakes and reducing the length of hospital stay.

ICUsteps is proud to endorse this quality standard.

Many adult hospital inpatients need Intravenous fluid therapy. Deciding on the best amount and type of fluids to be given and how quickly can be a difficult. These decisions are based on the patient’s individual needs.

Mistakes in ordering Intravenous fluids are more likely in emergency departments, acute admission units, and general medical and surgical wards. Studies have shown that many staff prescribing Intravenous fluids do not have enough understanding of the fluid needs of patients or the composition of the fluids available as it is often the most junior medical staff undertaking the task.

The quality standard outlines four statements:-

  • All hospitals have a lead person for Intravenous fluids, with responsibility for training, auditing and reviewing prescribing and the outcome of patients.
  • Patients receiving Intravenous fluids are looked after by staff trained to assess their needs and monitoring their response.
  • Patients have an Intravenous fluid management plan, covering a 24 hour prescription and plans for monitoring the response.
  • Any Intravenous fluid errors should be reported as critical incidents.

Dr Christina Jones, retired Intensive Care Nurse Consultant, welcomed the introduction of the quality standard.

National guidance on Intravenous fluid administration is very important. The recently released NICE quality standard on Intravenous fluid therapy lists the standards expected of individual hospitals to ensure patient safety and comfort and if mistakes are made ensures that these are reported and investigated. These are all very important aims which should improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Christina Jones