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Table 2

Determining the route of fluid administration

Patient parameter Route of fluid administration
Gastrointestinal tract is functional and no contraindications exist (e.g., vomiting) Per os
Anticipated dehydration or mild fluid volume disturbances in an outpatient setting Subcutaneous. Caution: use isotonic crystalloids only. Do not use dextrose, hypotonic (i.e., D5W), or hypertonic solutions. Subcutaneous fluids are best used to prevent losses and are not adequate for replacement therapy in anything other than very mild dehydration
Hospitalized patients not eating or drinking normally, anesthetized patients, patients who need rapid and/or large volume fluid administration (e.g., to treat dehydration, shock, hyperthermia, or hypotension) IV or intraosseous
Critical care setting. Used in patients with a need for rapid and/or large volume fluid administration, administration of hypertonic fluids and/or monitoring of central venous pressure Central IV

D5W, 5% dextrose in water.