I.V. fluid therapy plays a fundamental role in the management of hospitalized patients. While the correct use of i.v. fluids can be lifesaving, recent literature demonstrates that fluid therapy is not without risks. Indeed, the use of certain types and volumes of fluid can increase the risk of harm, and even death, in some patient groups. Data from a recent audit show us that the inappropriate use of fluids may occur in up to 20% of patients receiving fluid therapy. The delegates of the 12th Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative (ADQI) Conference sought to obtain consensus on the use of i.v. fluids with the aim of producing guidance for their use. In this article, we review a recently proposed model for fluid therapy in severe sepsis and propose a framework by which it could be adopted for use in most situations where fluid management is required. Considering the dose-effect relationship and side-effects of fluids, fluid therapy should be regarded similar to other drug therapy with specific indications and tailored recommendations for the type and dose of fluid. By emphasizing the necessity to individualize fluid therapy, we hope to reduce the risk to our patients and improve their outcome.
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