Teaching your Patient to Calculate his Fluid Intake and Output


If your patient will have to restrict his fluid intake after discharge, teach him to monitor his intake and output accurately. Explain that his fluid intake includes the following:

* everything he drinks, including the liquid in prepared foods

* soups

* everything that melts into liquid at room temperature, such as gelatin, custard, ice cream, and ice cubes

* liquid medications and fluids used to wash down pills or capsules.

Tell him that his fluid output includes everything that leaves his body in fluid form, including urine, wound drainage, watery stool, and vomitus.

Measuring Intake

Tell your patient to measure and record the amount of fluid he drinks with each meal, with medicine, and between meals. If he receives nutritive fluids I.V. or through a feeding tube, he should measure and record the amounts.

Suggest that he pour each liquid into a measuring cup and record the amount before drinking it. Instruct him to wash the measuring cup after each use, except after measuring water.

Explain that the labels on cans and bottles will help him determine precise fluid amounts. But tell him to subtract from his total any fluid that he either throws away or saves for future consumption.

Measuring Output

Instruct your patient to measure and record the amount of fluid that leaves his body. Tell him to keep a sontainer in his bathroom for measuring urine output and to wash it after each use.

If he is using drainage bags, tell him to measure and record the amount of fluid in each before disposing of it.

Converting Common Measurements

Tell your patient that he may have to convert household measurements (such as ounces and quarts) to metric measurments (such as milliliters). Instruct him to convert fluid ounces to milliliters by multiplying the ounces by 30 and to convert milliliters to outces by dividing the milliliters by 30.

Give him a copy of the following equivalents to use as a reference:

* 2 tablespoons (1 oz) = 30 ml

* 1 cup (8 oz) = 240 ml

* 1 pint (16 oz) = 480 ml

* 1 quart (32 oz) = 960 ml.