Despite physiological rationale, common sense, and a JAMA article now almost 2 years old, I still sadly see most of my internal medicine colleagues still routinely reaching for (ab)normal saline.
I genuinely feel bad recommending other fluids in consultations, or in the room of a crashing patient asking the nurse to stop the bolus of NS and change it at least to RL, because it is such a ‘basic’ intervention. Prior to the JAMA article, I mostly gave people the benefit of the doubt. Resuscitation isn’t everyone’s field of interest, nor is physiology, so I didn’t feel that necessarily everyone HAD to know this and ascribe to it. I do understand the 10 year time of knowledge translation, but that’s why #FOAMed exists, to try to cut that down.
So please, unless your goal is specifically chloride repletion, take a deep breath and release your grasp on habit and tradition, and embrace physiology (at least to some degree) and stop using NS as a volume expander whether in bolus or in infusion. RL or plasmalyte – although not physiological, at least not as biochemically disturbing as is 0.9% NaCl.
Having said that, let’s keep in mind that human fluid is colloid, whether it includes a cellular suspension (blood, lymph) or not (interstitial fluid), made of a varying mix of proteins, electrolytes, hormones and everything else we know – and some we don’t – floating around. There is no compartment that contains a crystalloid solution.
I’m quite aware that no meta-analysis has shown that colloids are superior, but it likely is just a matter of the right colloid. Resuscitating with crystalloids is kinda like throwing a bucketful of water at an empty bucket across the room. 70-80% spill, if you’re lucky. And the cleanup may be more costly than a few sweeps of the mop. This is evidence based (SOAP, VASST, etc..).
So a plea to all, spread the word. Its a simple switch. Boycott hyperchloremic acidosis at least.
For more details, here’s a link to my earlier post on NS: http://wp.me/p1avUV-5x