Nurses’ prioritization of enteral nutrition in intensive care units

Bloomer, M. J et al. Nursing in Critical Care. Published online: 30 January 2017

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Background: Enteral nutrition is important in critically ill patients to improve patient outcomes, with nurses playing a pivotal role in the delivery and ongoing care of enteral nutrition. A significant deficit in nurses’ knowledge and education relating to enteral nutrition has been identified, leading to iatrogenic malnutrition and potentially compromising patient care. Enteral nutrition appears to be prioritized lower than many other aspects of care. However, there is scant research to show how nurses prioritize enteral nutrition.

Conclusion:Respondents relied on their clinical judgement to inform decisions in relation to enteral nutrition in critically ill patients. Most respondents agreed that enteral nutrition was an important aspect of patient care, but acknowledged that other aspects of care were prioritized more highly. Despite this, some delays to enteral nutrition were perceived to be avoidable, and nurses recognized a need to advocate on the patient’s behalf to increase the visibility of enteral nutrition.

Relevance to clinical practice: The findings of this study demonstrate that enteral nutrition is often prioritized lower than other competing care needs in the critically ill patient. Given the importance of enteral nutrition to patient recovery, changes to clinical practice to improve enteral nutrition management are necessary.

Read the full abstract here

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