Oral feeding is the most desirable route of feeding; feedings by mouth ensure that gut function is maintained and prevents bacterial translocation. However, for many patients in the clinical setting adequate oral intake is not always feasible. This nutrient deficiency may be caused by their need for increased calories, lack of appetite as a side effect of a disease, altered gastrointestinal function, hatred for hospital food, etc. It is important as a clinical dietitian to ensure that a patient is receiving the appropriate amount of calories for quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays.
Food is more than just a necessity; it represents a comfort for most individuals.
Throughout my short time in clinical I have ordered so many supplements for patients I feel I should be receiving commission from some of these corporations. All joking aside, these products do a lot of good. For example an elderly patient who is suffering from pressure ulcers and requires increased energy and protein needs can receive a protein modular to promote wound healing. A cancer patient that is hypermetabolic can drink high calorie supplements for weight maintenance.
It’s easy to justify why certain patients should receive specific nutritional supplements, e.g. Novasource Renal for a patient suffering from chronic kidney disease. However, when a patient asks you if drink has a medicinal flavor and you have no prior knowledge, a patient is less willing to receive the supplement and/or meet your goals of consuming the supplement.
It was thanks to my preceptors I had the joy of receiving a supplement “buffet”. By the end I had the pleasure of sampling nearly 20 drinks, powders, puddings, and ice cream.
Whether it is through a “hazing” type ritual or simply out of curiosity it is important to sample all of the nutritional supplements before recommending them to a patient. Knowing your products and how they taste makes it easy to assume whether a patient is likely to consume the supplement or not.