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Fluid provisions shortfall for enteral tube feeding

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There are serious failures in ensuring vulnerable patients receive adequate fluids, particularly for patients on enteral tube feeding, according to research.

An online survey by BAPEN/PENG, which quizzed 429 healthcare workers, revealed that an alarmingly large number of trusts do not have hydration guidelines.

Only 31% of those asked said their trusts had set out guidelines, while only a fifth of trusts covered by the poll had specific procedures to follow for those being fed via an enteral tube.

Fewer than half (32%) of those questioned answered the question on enteral tube feeding and the findings indicate that there is either a lack of confidence or reluctance to share knowledge about fluid given to patients fed in this way.

Most of those who did answer said the 30-35ml/kg of fluid should be given per day, as outlined by PENG and other guidelines.

Despite the dangers of dehydration, this research has suggested that the provision of adequate fluid is not always covered by routine clinical practices.

“The provision of adequate fluid (and nutrition) is considered a core fundamental element of patient care, yet these results demonstrate improvements in hydration policies are required,” says Ailsa Brotherton, honorary secretary to BAPEN.

“The new data suggests a need for cross-disciplinary education and empowerment to encourage consideration of the enteral route as part of normal hydration practice where there is an over reliance on IV fluids.”

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