The management of patients presenting with hypernatraemia: is aggressive management appropriate?

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Hypernatraemia is a common finding among patients presenting to hospital. The aim of this observational study was to discover what types of patients presented with hypernatraemia and whether they were appropriately managed. The management of hypernatraemia was audited against common standards of care. Hypernatraemia at presentation carries a poor prognosis and in this study management of hypernatraemia was found to be done poorly, possibly because for many patients aggressive management was deemed inappropriate. The majority of patients who present with hypernatraemia are older, dependent and/or suffer from cognitive impairment. Many of these patients do not have a reversible cause for their hypernatraemia. These patients need to be recognised, ideally in the community, so that inappropriate admission can be avoided, but also on presentation to hospital so that appropriate care, which may be end-of-life care, can be provided.

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