Individualized feeding care plans and safe handling of milk (human or formula) are critical in promoting growth, immune function, and neurodevelopment in the preterm infant. Feeding errors and disruptions or limitations to feeding processes in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are associated with negative safety events. Feeding errors include contamination of milk and delivery of incorrect or expired milk and may result in adverse gastrointestinal illnesses.
The purpose of this review was to evaluate the effect(s) of centralized milk preparation, use of trained technicians, use of bar code-scanning software, and collaboration between registered dietitians and registered nurses on feeding safety in the NICU.
A systematic review of the literature was completed, and 12 articles were selected as relevant to search criteria. Study quality was evaluated using the Downs and Black scoring tool.
An evaluation of human studies indicated that the use of centralized milk preparation, trained technicians, bar code-scanning software, and possible registered dietitian involvement decreased feeding-associated error in the NICU.
Implications for Practice:
A state-of-the-art NICU includes a centralized milk preparation area staffed by trained technicians, care supported by bar code-scanning software, and utilization of a registered dietitian to improve patient safety. These resources will provide nurses more time to focus on nursing-specific neonatal care.
Implications for Research:
Further research is needed to evaluate the impact of factors related to feeding safety in the NICU as well as potential financial benefits of these quality improvement opportunities.