GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Better nutrition for the most at-risk patients needing tube-feeding (EN, or enteral nutrition) in intensive care in hospitals plays a key role in avoiding what can be deadly infections, Swiss medical researchers have shown. Work published Thursday 6 December in the British medical journal Lancet and online 3 December, by a research team from the Geneva university hospitals, Hug, working with the Chuv university hospitals in Lausanne, shows that nosocomial infections can be reduced by 20 percent in intensive care units (ICU) by improving nutrition.
Nosocomial, or hospital-acquired infections can be fungal or bacterial infections. Europe sees some 146,000 deaths each year from the infections, a mortality rate of 3.6 percent. In the US they account for 99,000 deaths a year out of 1.7 million infections, a mortality rate of 5.8 percent.
Dr Claudia Heidegger, adjunct doctor in the Hug intensive care unit and Professor Claude Pichard of the Hug carried out nutrition studies at their hospital and the Chuv in Lausanne on 305 ICU patients. Energy and calorie needs based on ideal body weight were calculated on day 3 of the patients’ ICU stays. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to continue with EN feeding and the other half received additional nutrients through supplementary intravenous (SPN, or supplementary parenteral nutrition) feeding.
The findings could have a significant impact on death rates in hospital intensive care units, if implemented, suggest the authors.