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Ir J Med Sci. 2018 Nov 27. doi: 10.1007/s11845-018-1937-4. [Epub ahead of print]

Fluid and electrolyte balance-establishing the knowledge base of Foundation Year One doctors.

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Royal Free Hospital, Pond St, Hampstead, London, NW3 2QG, UK.
Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK.
National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
Croydon University Hospital, London, UK.
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.



Fluid and electrolyte management for hospital inpatients has been identified by multiple reports to be suboptimal, with delegation of this task to the most junior members of a medical team, Foundation Year One (FY1) doctors, also known as interns or house officers, being identified as a contributing factor.


An online survey was distributed nationally via social media to FY1 doctors between 21st August 2018 and 19th September 2018. Questions focused around cohort characteristics, team behaviours around fluid and electrolyte prescribing, as well as teaching and knowledge.


Two hundred eighty-six doctors participated. 67.13% knew the daily water requirement of a healthy adult. 58.39 and 79.72% knew the daily requirements of potassium and sodium, respectively. 41.26 and 33.57% knew the potassium and sodium composition of Hartmann's solution (1 L), respectively, with only 31.12% of candidates knowing the correct sodium content of 1 L of normal saline 0.9%. FY1 doctors were the principle prescribers of fluid therapy (97.55%); senior house officers, registrars, and consultants were only actively involved in the process 51.75, 20.98, and 5.59% of the time, respectively. 30.77 and 23.43% of FY1s received guidelines and/or teaching on the topic within their firms or as part of their foundation teaching, respectively. At undergraduate level, 52.44% of doctors reported the teaching to be "neither poor or good," "poor," or "very poor."


The principle knowledge base underlying fluid and electrolyte management is still poorly understood by FY1 doctors, with poor teaching of the subject at both undergraduate and post-graduate level potentially contributing.


Electrolyte; Fluid; Foundation doctor; Intern; Medical education; Postgraduate medical education; Prescribing


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