Enteral feeding in the critically ill: are nursing practices contributing to hypocaloric feeding?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Intensive Crit Care Nurs, 2006, 22 (2), pp. 95 - 105
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INTRODUCTION: Enteral feeding is the preferred method of nutritional support for the critically ill; however, a significant number of these patients are under-fed. It is possible that common nursing practices associated with the delivery of enteral feeding may contribute to under-feeding although there is little data available describing nursing practice in this area. METHOD: A descriptive survey-based design was used to explore the enteral feeding practices of 376 critical care nurses (response rate 50.5%). Participants completed a 57-item survey that focused on general enteral feeding practice and the management of feeding intolerance and complications. RESULTS: The enteral feeding practice of critical care nurses varied widely and included some practices that could contribute to under-feeding in the critically ill. Practices associated with the measurement of gastric residual volumes (GRV) were identified as the most significant potential contributor to under-feeding. GRV measurements were commonly used to assess feeding tolerance (n = 338; 89.9%) and identified as a reason to delay feeding (n = 246; 65.4%). Delayed gastric emptying was frequently managed by prokinetic agents (n = 237; 63%) and decreasing the rate of feeding (n = 247; 65.7%) while nursing measures, such as changing patient position (n = 81; 21.5%) or checking tube placement (n = 94; 25%) were less frequently reported. CONCLUSION: The findings of this survey support the contention that nursing practices associated with the delivery of enteral feeds may contribute to under-feeding in the critically ill patient population.
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