Objective: Critically ill patients are at high risk of malnutrition. Insufficient nutritional support still remains a widespread problem despite guidelines. The aim of this study was to measure the clinical impact of a two-step interdisciplinary quality nutrition program.
Design: Prospective interventional study over three periods (A, baseline; B and C, intervention periods).
Setting: Mixed intensive care unit within a university hospital.
Patients: Five hundred seventy-two patients (age 59 ± 17 yrs) requiring >72 hrs of intensive care unit treatment.
Intervention: Two-step quality program: 1) bottom-up implementation of feeding guideline; and 2) additional presence of an intensive care unit dietitian. The nutrition protocol was based on the European guidelines.
Measurements and Main Results: Anthropometric data, intensive care unit severity scores, energy delivery, and cumulated energy balance (daily, day 7, and discharge), feeding route (enteral, parenteral, combined, none–oral), length of intensive care unit and hospital stay, and mortality were collected. Altogether 5800 intensive care unit days were analyzed. Patients in period A were healthier with lower Simplified Acute Physiologic Scale and proportion of “rapidly fatal” McCabe scores. Energy delivery and balance increased gradually: impact was particularly marked on cumulated energy deficit on day 7 which improved from −5870 kcal to −3950 kcal (p < .001). Feeding technique changed significantly with progressive increase of days with nutrition therapy (A: 59% days, B: 69%, C: 71%, p < .001), use of enteral nutrition increased from A to B (stable in C), and days on combined and parenteral nutrition increased progressively. Oral energy intakes were low (mean: 385 kcal*day−1, 6 kcal*kg−1*day −1). Hospital mortality increased with severity of condition in periods B and C.
Conclusion: A bottom-up protocol improved nutritional support. The presence of the intensive care unit dietitian provided significant additional progression, which were related to early introduction and route of feeding, and which achieved overall better early energy balance.