Understanding the principles and aims of intravenous fluid therapy
Intended for healthcare professionals

Understanding the principles and aims of intravenous fluid therapy

Mags Guest Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Clinical Skills, University of Hull, Hull, England

Why you should read this article
  • To understand the mechanisms used by the body to maintain fluid balance

  • To recognise the principles involved in assessing a patient who may require intravenous fluid therapy

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

A balance between the volume of fluid taken in by the human body, and the volume of fluid excreted, is essential for life. Body fluid balance, which is maintained via various homeostatic mechanisms, can be disrupted by injury or disease. Prompt action is usually required to replenish fluid volumes and restore homeostasis, which is achieved via intravenous (IV) fluid therapy. Nurses will often encounter patients with a disrupted fluid balance, particularly in critical care. They will be involved in assessing patients’ fluid status and administering and monitoring therapy. Therefore, nurses have an important role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of IV fluid therapy. This article provides an overview of the principles and aims of IV fluid therapy. It also explains the physiology of body fluid and mechanisms of fluid balance regulation, outlines the principles of patient assessment and indications for IV fluid therapy, and details its potential risks and complications.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11459

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Guest M (2020) Understanding the principles and aims of intravenous fluid therapy. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11459

Published online: 27 January 2020

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