Premature babies underfed24th June 2010
A report has raised concerns over artificial feeding of adults and premature babies in hospitals.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found that premature babies were suffering from a lack of food when being fed through a tube and in a third of cases were suffering delays in being fed.
In 75% of cases where premature babies were fed artificially there were failings in the standard of treatment.
In addition, there were also failings in a quarter of cases of the way adults were artificially fed and in others the nutritional needs were not being met.
The NCEPOD study looked at 877 adults and 264 babies from 218 hospitals in the UK who were receiving artificial nutrition between January and March 2008.
The report, A Mixed Bag, said: "Many of these babies were extremely premature and of low birth weight and therefore with minimal nutritional reserve.
"Most of the delays were in the order of a few days from birth; however in some cases the delays were up to a week or more."
It found that only 171 out of 877 adults (19%) treated had care that represented "good practice".
Dr Mike Stroud, chair of the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) said the report provided "solid evidence that many hospitals are currently delivering unsafe artificial nutrition to the most vulnerable adults and babies".
Health minister Anne Milton said the findings of the report should be a "sobering reality for clinicians and hospital boards".
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