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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Apr 29. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001813. [Epub ahead of print]

Balanced Electrolyte Solutions or Normal Saline? Resuscitative Fluid Administration Practice in Swiss Pediatric Acute Care: A Cross-Sectional Study.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, and.
Pediatric Emergency Department, Inselspital, University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.



The ideal asanguineous intravenous fluid for volume resuscitation in children is controversially debated and clinical practice guidelines are scarce. Administration of large amounts of normal saline has been associated with complications including hyperchloremic acidosis, dysnatremia, neurologic damage, and fatality.


We examined the current practice of intravenous fluid and blood product administration in acutely ill and injured children among pediatric acute care physicians in Switzerland.


For this descriptive, cross-sectional study, pediatric emergency departments, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units were surveyed by means of an online questionnaire.


Sixty of 66 departments and 47 of 87 participants returned the survey. Normal saline (NS) was most commonly administered (n = 42/46, 91.3%) and twice as many times as balanced electrolyte solutions (n = 20/46, 43.5%). The mean fluid volumes ranged from 7.9 to 19.1 mL/kg. Hypertonic saline/NS were selected most often for shock with severe head injury. Half of participants administered colloids (48.9%). Packed red blood cells (97.7%) and fresh frozen plasma (88.4%) were most frequently given blood products.


There is a distinct practice variation in intravenous fluid and blood product administration in children in Switzerland. Although NS is most frequently given, we observed a trend toward the use of balanced electrolyte solutions. Prospective studies are warranted to compare NS with balanced electrolyte solution (BES) in the pediatric acute care setting. We suggest that pediatric fluid administration guidelines and mass transfusion protocols are implemented to standardize this frequent intervention and minimize complications.

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