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Resource type: Article

Fluids and medications


When patients are connected to a ventilator or breathing machine, they are unable to drink normally. Fluids are therefore given directly into the bloodstream via drips or lines.The nurses carefully monitor and record how much fluid the patient receives along with the patient's vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure,etc), daily blood tests and how much urine they pass to make sure that he or she is receiving the right amount of fluids.


Medication can given in many different ways. It can be given into the bloodstream (intravenously), into the muscle using a needle (intramuscularly), or just under the skin using a needle (subcutaneously). Some medications are so strong that they can only be given into a large vein (intravenously) in the patient's neck or groin, where a richer blood supply helps to quickly dilute the medication.

We can also give some medications down the tube that goes down the nose and into the stomach (the nasogastric tube) or in the form of plasters or patches. Others can be given in a device that delivers medication in a fine mist which is inhaled into the lungs (nebuliser).