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Dietetic service provision for burn care in the United Kingdom: are nutrition support standards being met?

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Abstract Background: 

Catabolism and lean body mass losses in severe burn injury present an extreme challenge to the dietitian. A high level of nutritional intervention is often required, but service levels have not been described in the UK. This study aimed to identify levels of current dietetic services with respect to burns and to assess adequacy against existing nutrition support standards. Methods: 

A postal survey of 34 UK dietetic departments known to provide care to burned adult and paediatric admissions was undertaken. Data were collected on burns settings, hospital service characteristics, staffing and caseload issues, and absence cover. Comparison was made between funding and activity to National Health Service standards for the nutritional care of inpatients. Results: 

The response rate was 71% and data were analysed for 20 departments Clinical settings were either burn units or plastic surgery wards. Dietetic care was provided to critically ill burned patients in 16 hospitals. Most hospitals had no dietetic funding assigned for burn care. The funding deficit for critical care compared to recommendations was 5.9 full-time equivalents and no individual hospital met funding standards. Thirty-seven percent of dietitians were unable to provide daily follow up for critically ill patients. Absence cover was limited in 60% of cases. Approximately one-third of dietitians were members of a nutrition support team. Conclusions: 

Compared to national guidelines for nutrition support, deficiencies of dietetic service provision exist within UK burns settings. This is further reinforced when practice is compared with existing multi-professional burns management standards.
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Keywords: burns; critical care; dietetics; health services research; nutrition support

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2009

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