Parenteral nutrition. Do dietitians have a role? Results of the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Group survey

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Aim: To examine the role of the nutrition support dietitian in parenteral nutrition (PN).

Methods: Two postal surveys were sent to members of the Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Group (PENG) in 1993 and 1995. The questionnaires were designed to examine four key areas of dietetic practice in PN.

Results: Response rates of 73% in 1993 and 75% in 1995 were achieved. In 1993, a minority of dietitians, only 5%, assumed total responsibility for the formulation of parenteral nutrition regimens. In 1995 this figure had risen to 14%. However, 83% of nutrition support dietitians wanted to increase their involvement in PN. Results from the 1995 survey showed that 42% of dietitians felt that education at undergraduate level was inadequate, whilst 58% felt education at postgraduate level could be improved.

Conclusion: Both surveys raised a number of issues concerning present prescribing practices of PN in the UK. There appears to be little practical clinical nutrition education concerning PN either in the medical, dietetic or pharmaceutical curriculum. This may indicate that present prescribing practices are suboptimal. Because dietitians are involved in nutritional assessment and calculation of nutritional requirements it would seem sensible that dietitians should have a greater prescribing role in PN. In order to become competent advisors in this area, more must be done to improve education for dietitians at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, otherwise the opportunity to be actively involved in this area may be lost.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Renal Unit QMH, Dunfermline and Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK

Publication date: August 1, 1998

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