HEALTH

Intermountain Healthcare study finds “better” IV fluid treatment

Jun 28, 2022, 3:31 PM
IV bags hang in a room. Intermountain healthcare conducted a study on IV fluid....
Medical personnel work at LDS Hospital’s COVID-19 unit in Salt Lake City on Tuesday Feb. 3, 2022. Photo credit: Intermountain Health Care.

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare said Tuesday that its researchers found a “better” and “safer” treatment option for IV fluid. Intermountain researchers conducted a 15-month-long study that compared lactated Ringer solution to commonly used saline solution.

Intermountain said in a press release Tuesday that the study included 148,423 adult hospital patients in both Utah and Idaho.

Background on IV fluids

200 million liters of saline solution are used each year in the U.S., according to Intermountain. The solution has many uses, including replenishing patients’ fluids and delivering medication.

Intermountain said there is “mounting evidence” to show that saline solutions might increase the risk to patient’s health. This might be due to the solution having more acidity and higher chloride levels than fluids found in the body.

Lactated Ringer solution, like saline, replaces fluids and electrolytes in patients with low blood volume or low blood pressure.

That said, the lactated Ringer solution has different ingredients and is more similar to blood plasma than the saline solution.

What Intermountain Healthcare found

The study showed that patients given lactated Ringer solution as their IV fluid had “a lower risk of kidney injury and death than when they were given saline.” According to the study, patients who received the lactated Ringer solution had a 2.2% reduced risk.

Joseph Bledsoe MD, who is the principal investigator of the study and director of research for emergency medicine for Intermountain Healthcare, said that the 2.2% reduced risk sounds small but considering the large scale of patients that receive IV treatments, the advantage could be major.

“For our health system alone, that’s 3,000 people every year who may avoid complications from normal saline, at no additional cost,” said Bledsoe.

Researchers found that 30 days after treatment, patients given lactated Ringer solution had a 2.2% reduction in kidney dysfunction, new initiation of dialysis and death.

The company said the risk reduction was even greater for patients with sepsis and severe infection.

Though, not all patients benefited from the lactated Ringer solution. Intermountain said patients with brain injuries might benefit from saline solution instead, but noted that more studies are needed.

“Given the scope of this study, and its success in addition to previous studies, hospitals around the country should consider what they use for IV fluids, too,” Bledsoe said.

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Intermountain Healthcare study finds “better” IV fluid treatment