PURPOSE: To examine whether nurse anesthetists and postanesthesia nurses' administration of intravenous (IV) fluid therapy during surgery and in the postanesthesia care unit is based on evidence. Secondarily to investigate if providing indications for IV fluid administration changed nursing practice.
DESIGN: Prospective, descriptive, single-center study in Scandinavia comparing two cohorts.
METHODS: Descriptive, fluid volume, and type data were obtained in both cohorts. Cohort 1 (n = 126) was used as baseline data. In cohort 2 (n = 130), nurses recorded indications for type and volume of fluid therapy using a validated list. Analysis compared median volumes of crystalloid or colloid fluids of surgical types by cohort. Analysis compared frequency of given indication reasons for each IV fluid by surgical type.
FINDINGS: Basic static variables were chosen most frequently for indications of IV fluid needed for all surgeries except high-risk abdominal surgery where dynamic variables were more frequent. Signs and symptoms of inadequate tissue perfusion were only sparsely indicated. The volume of intraoperative crystalloid fluids was statistically different for patients with hip fracture surgery in cohort 2. Volumes of both colloid and crystalloid fluids were significantly higher for high-risk abdominal surgery in cohort 2.
CONCLUSIONS: Nurse anesthetists and nurses in the postanesthesia care unit rely more on basic static parameters than signs of inadequate tissue perfusion when they make decisions about fluid administration. The indications cited for fluid administered to high-risk abdominal surgery and hip fracture patients did not always fit guidelines. This indicates the need of a stronger intervention to change practice to follow evidence-based clinical guidelines.