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Compliance with a pediatric clinical practice guideline for intravenous fluid and electrolyte administration.

The occurrence of acute hyponatremia associated with cerebral edema in hospitalized children has been increasingly recognized, with over 50 cases of neurological morbidity and mortality reported in the past decade. This condition most commonly occurs in previously healthy children where maintenance intravenous (IV) fluids have been prescribed in the form of hypotonic saline (e.g., 0.2 or 0.3 NaCl). In response to similar problems at The Hospital for Sick Children (six identified through hospital morbidity and mortality reviews and safety reports prior to fall 2007), an interdisciplinary clinician group from our institution developed a clinical practice guideline (CPG) to guide fluid and electrolyte administration for pediatric patients. This article reviews the evaluation of one patient safety improvement to change the prescribing practice for IV fluids in an acute care pediatric hospital, including the removal of the ability to prescribe hypotonic IV solutions with a sodium concentration of < 75 mmol/L. The evaluation of key components of the CPG included measuring practice and process changes pre- and post-implementation. The evaluation showed that the use of restricted IV fluids was significantly reduced across the organization. Success factors of this safety initiative included the CPG development, forcing functions, reminders, team engagement and support from the hospital leadership. A key learning was that a project leader with considerable dedicated time is required during the implementation to develop change concepts, organize and liaise with stakeholders and measure changes in practice. This project highlights the importance of active implementation for policy and guideline documents.

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