The problem: preventable dehydration
If a vulnerable person cannot easily reach, lift or hold a drink they will need help to stay properly hydrated. That help is often not immediately or consistently available.
Dehydration is possibly the single biggest issue in healthcare. Huge levels of hospital admissions and increased length of stay are a direct result of dehydration i. Urinary infections account for over 170,000 admissions and over 1.3 million bed days each year ii. Falls, constipation, intravenous drips, acute kidney injury, blocked catheters and many other issues are often a direct result of dehydration. Not to mention many deaths which are regularly headline news.iii
The impact of dehydration on patient wellness is extraordinary. It is extraordinary. It contributes massively to our core indicators in death, outcomes and length of stay just from whether the water is consumed or not, whether frail elderly patients are hydrated or not. Dedicated staff put the water in the cup, put the water by the bed, but the patient cannot reach it….
- Jim Easton, NHS National Director for Improvement and Efficiency
As a junior doctor I would set up as many as 20 intravenous drips each day to rehydrate patients. Around 60% of these would have been totally avoidable if the patients were able to easily access fluids without calling for help.
- Dr S Derry BSc BMBS MRCGP