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How to perform fluid therapy

02 September 2019
29 mins read
Volume 10 · Issue 7


Veterinary nurses play an important role in infusion therapy and they are involved in all stages of intravenous fluid therapy (IVFT) provision. Examples of tasks undertaken within their role include pre-infusion blood sampling and testing, pre-infusion patient assessment, preparation of infusions, obtaining intravenous access, administering infusions safely and monitoring patient progress. This article will explore each of these tasks in turn, examining considerations to be mindful of to ensure a safe and efficient procedure, while highlighting any potential pitfalls and how they can be avoided.

The indications for infusion therapy in small animal practice are varied, with many patients requiring and benefitting from support of their fluid balance and cardiovascular function. Examples of patients include those with medical conditions, surgical patients and, of course emergency patients. The decision about which type of fluid to administer to a patient is the remit of the veterinary surgeon (VS), however it is essential registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) understand the composition of fluids used in their workplace and how they exert their effects to ensure they can monitor a patient's progress effectively. This will enable the RVN to identify problems promptly, which can be reported to the VS and addressed.

Following initial examination and diagnostics the VS will have established issues with hydration, tissue perfusion and fluid volume or loss, will prioritise their aims or goals, will select the most appropriate fluid, determine an administration rate and decide on the most appropriate route for administration (Aldridge and O'Dwyer, 2013). During planning the VS will take into consideration: the nature of the fluid disturbance, whether it is acute or chronic; the pathology of the disturbance, whether there is an acid-base, oncotic or electrolyte problem; any comorbid conditions, so the presence of one or more additional disorders or diseases alongside the primary underlying disease condition (Davis et al, 2013). It is important that the RVN is aware of the plan, the associated goals, the time-frames for their achievement, and how to appraise the patient's progress towards them.

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