'Staggering numbers' of patients at risk because medical staff aren't trained to use IV drips

Healthcare standards body has released urgent new guidelines

Health reporter

Patients are being put at risk in “staggering numbers” because doctors and nurses lack formal training in administering fluids through a drip, the healthcare standards body and patients groups have warned.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released new guidelines which call on health workers to become better educated in the safe use of intravenous fluid therapy (IV) following evidence that as many as one in five patients suffer complications due to inappropriate administration, with some even dying as a result.

IV fluids are given to patients directly into a vein, to control problems associated with electrolyte imbalance, for the delivery of medications, and to replace fluids.

Dr Mike Stroud, a consultant at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and chair of the group that drew up the new NICE guidelines said it was recognised throughout the NHS that “little formal training relating to IV fluid therapy exists”.

“This needs to change since prescribing, administering and monitoring intravenous fluids correctly is aspect of care,” he said.

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