15.1 Fluids and Electrolytes Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Describe variables that influence fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Identify factors related to fluid/electrolyte balance across the life span
  • Assess a patient’s nutritional and fluid/electrolyte status
  • Outline specific nursing interventions to promote fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Base decisions on the signs and symptoms of fluid volume excess and fluid volume deficit
  • Base decisions on the interpretation of diagnostic tests and lab values indicative of a disturbance in fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Identify evidence-based practices

The human body maintains a delicate balance of fluids and electrolytes to help ensure proper functioning and homeostasis. When fluids or electrolytes become imbalanced, individuals are at risk for organ system dysfunction. If an imbalance goes undetected and is left untreated, organ systems cannot function properly and ultimately death will occur. Nurses must be able to recognize subtle changes in fluid or electrolyte balances in their patients so they can intervene promptly. Timely assessment and intervention prevent complications and save lives.


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