Background and importance Many patients in our hospitals require intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to avoid or address imbalances of either fluid and/or electrolyte balance. One in five patients who receive IV experience increased morbidity or complications relating to fluid administration. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that fluid prescribing should be treated with the same consideration as that of medication, and that it is the responsibility of the multiprofessional team.
Aim and objectives To ascertain the current role of hospital pharmacists in the management of IV fluids and electrolytes.
To determine the advantages and limitations of existing training on IV fluids and electrolytes.
To explore potential roles for pharmacists in relation to the management of IV fluids and electrolytes.
Material and methods In July 2021 a pre-piloted 20-item questionnaire developed was emailed to all pharmacists working in secondary care in (n=739). A mix of multiple-choice, Likert-style as well as free-text questions were included. Descriptive statistics were used. Free-text comments were evaluated using thematic analysis.
Results A total of 198 pharmacists responded, representing a 27% response rate. Just over half the respondents had experience managing IV fluids (54%) but only 3% defined themselves as ‘very experienced’ in this area. Most respondents do not review IV fluids (71%). In relation to a desire to learn how to review IV fluids, 84% of respondents expressed a desire to learn, 7% were already actively learning and 9% felt no desire to learn this skill. Most respondents (65%) were not confident in their ability to support junior doctors in the prescribing of IV fluids; however, 65% of respondents completely agreed or agreed that the pharmacist has a role in the management of fluids at ward level, with 67% agreeing that the pharmacist has a role in the prescribing of IV electrolytes and 65% in the prescribing of IV fluids.
Conclusion and relevance Pharmacist respondents believe that pharmacists have a role in the management of IV fluids and electrolytes; however, most have identified a gap in their knowledge and skills. There is also a need to resource this additional task appropriately so that other roles of the pharmacist are not neglected.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest
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