Intravenous fluids play an important role in the management of critically ill patients; they provide a means by which fluid balance can be maintained in the absence of adequate oral intake. While their administration should always be carefully planned and monitored, nowhere is this more important than within this patient group, who are particularly susceptible to fluid overload and electrolyte imbalances, which can increase the risk of complications and mortality.
Abnormal levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate are commonly found in patients within the intensive care unit and appropriate selection of intravenous fluids and additions can be used to correct these. However, chloride levels are also frequently disturbed in critically ill patients, often as a result of intravenous fluid therapy that contains higher concentrations of chloride than usually present in the body. Yet, this has not been as well studied as other electrolyte imbalances.
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