ICU patients malnourished due to number of nurses available

A study of the Intensive Care Unit of a university hospital found that in 73 cases out of 262 ICU patients didn’t receive enough food to adequately recover.   While there are many reasons for patients to be malnourished, the leading cause was feeding began too late due to a reduced nursing staff.  The study was published by the American Journal of Critical Care.

Nurses need to be available every three hours to oversee patient feeding as well as fend off complications due to feeding tubes, food indigestion, or simple feeding interruption.   In many cases, the extended time it took staff to begin the feeding process with patients resulted in patients still receiving fewer calories than they needed.  The biggest delay occurred between admission and insertion of the feeding tube, which took between 26-29 hours.  That study can be found here.

It’s another study that confirms the connection between safe patient care and staffing in hospitals, particularly by nurses.  Patients and soon-to-be patients have no idea what standard of care the hospital where they’ll be admitted will practice.  Patients deserve a minimum standard of care in every hospital, and they have a right to know the level of quality of care they’ll receive.  Hospitals must be transparent about their patient care, including the number of nurses on duty in each department.  With that information, consumers can compare their local hospitals to accepted standards set by professional organizations and choose the hospital with the best care.

Patient Story

Your Patient Stories Over the past few weeks, you've been sending us stories about your experiences in Minnesota hospitals.  We've heard them, and we think others should, too.  By sharing your patient experience with us, you can help us promote a safe nurse-to-patient ratio at all Minnesota hospitals.
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