Nutritional intake in the critically ill: improving practice through research.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Aust Crit Care, 2004, 17 (1), pp. 6 - 15
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Enteral feeding is the preferred method of nutritional support in the critically ill; however, evidence suggests that many critically ill patients do not meet their nutritional goals. The implementation of enteral feeding protocols has improved nutritional delivery, although protocols can be widely variable. Similarly, enteral feeding related nursing practice is also inconsistent within and between intensive care units (ICUs). These variations in enteral feeding practice can be linked to the shortage of reliable and valid research into the many issues associated with the effective delivery of enteral nutrition. In the absence of a strong research tradition and practice, rituals are embraced and rarely challenged, further contributing to the wide variations in enteral feeding practice. Of particular importance are practice issues related to the commencement of enteral feeding and the assessment of feeding tolerance. This article seeks to review the literature related to commencing enteral feeding, with particular reference to the suitability of enteral nutrition, methods of enteral feeding and adjustment of enteral feeding rates. Issues relating to feeding intolerance, including the assessment of gastric residual volume and the development of diarrhoea, will also be explored.
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