The fluid and electrolyte imbalances associated with adrenocortical failure affect multiple physiologic systems in the critically ill patient. Because of its widespread effect, the objective signs of adrenocortical failure may escape recognition. In the context of shock states affecting the function of multiple organs that have been previously diagnosed, empirical evidence suggesting the presence of adrenal insufficiency may be attributed to the primary diagnosis and illness. However, it is most important that critical care nurses question whether adequate adrenal function is present. When effective patient assessment and management are standard components of care, adrenocortical dysfunction may be reversed, while failure to assess for signs of adrenal insufficiency may lead to irreversible patient outcomes. This paper describes phenomena of adrenocortical failure in critically ill patients and presents the problems of fluid and electrolyte imbalance that accompany them

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