The going recommendation for patients who present to the emergency room with dehydration is IV fluids. It seems to me that this is fairly wasteful and needlessly expensive. Is rehydrating with a saline drip really that much better than "here, drink this"?

To keep the question limited in scope (there are other benefits to starting an IV, like if a medication has to be administered there's already a line ready to go), I'll ask specifically about time. How much faster is rehydrating over IV vs. oral fluids? For detail, I'd love some input on what the process of absorbing fluids looks like, timing-wise.

  • What has your research revealed so far?
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 3 at 17:17
  • @CareyGregory Precious little about time to rehydration. All the research I found used questionable endpoints and/or methods, like this one where the primary endpoint was time in hospital or staff time used and "the decision to discharge the patient from the PED was made by the attending physician when the patient's presenting signs and symptoms of dehydration were reversed and vomiting had ceased." Completely subjective, and without any objective measure of time to rehydration. Hence the question :) Jan 3 at 18:38

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