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Nurs Crit Care. 2007 May-Jun;12(3):114-23.

Review of ICU nutrition support practices: implementing the nurse-led enteral feeding algorithm.

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Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Many intensive care units (ICUs) have standard feeding protocols which promote safe early initiation of enteral feeding. The use of these protocols has been shown to increase the incidence of enteral feeding and achieve greater adequacy of nutrition support. A multidisciplinary working party developed and implemented a nurse-led enteral feeding algorithm which enabled senior nursing staff to set safe and nutritionally adequate target feed volumes based upon patient body weight. The algorithm incorporated best practice-based referral criteria so that patients at nutritional risk were referred for tailored dietetic assessment. The aims were to determine compliance with the ICU nurse-led enteral feeding algorithm and to ascertain its safety and efficacy. A 3-month prospective audit was conducted by specialist ICU dietitians. Data were obtained from electronic patient records and through observing feeding practices. Data collected included prescribed feed type and infusion rate versus volume received, frequency of gastric aspiration and prokinetic usage. In all, 90% (n = 43) of referrals received by the dietitian met the referral criteria. Absolute compliance with patients receiving correct type and volumes of feed, with a correct feed prescription and an accurate documented weight was just 2% (n = 1). Despite this finding, 60% of patients were actually receiving the correct feed regimen. If the nurse-led enteral feeding algorithm is wholly adhered to, the ICU dietitian need not formally assess every ICU patient. Nursing staff require further support in assessing patient body weight alongside an ongoing intensive educational programme for the multidisciplinary team and regular reaudit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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