Refeeding syndrome and the impact of nutrition support teams


Studied since the 1940s, refeeding syndrome still has no universal definition, thus making comparison of studies difficult” Braun et al (2016).


Background: Studied since the 1940s, refeeding syndrome still has no universal definition, thus making comparison of studies difficult. Negative outcomes (eg, metabolic abnormalities) may occur with the use of specialized nutrition, such as parenteral nutrition (PN). Less than half of medical institutions have a nutrition support team (NST) managing PN. Interdisciplinary team management of PN may reduce negative outcomes of PN. The objective of this study was to show the value of the NST by measuring differences in PN variables, especially electrolyte abnormalities (EAs), before and after NST initiation at a large medical center and to identify factors associated with EAs among adult subjects receiving PN.

Materials and Methods: During this retrospective study, computerized medical charts (N = 735) from 2007–2010 were reviewed for electrolyte changes (particularly potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus) the first 3 days following PN initiation in hospitalized adults. Changes in EAs with other variables were compared before and after NST implementation. Equivalent samples sizes were collected to better evaluate the impact of the team.

Results: Following the implementation of the NST, fewer EAs were seen in PN patients (53%; χ2 = 10.906, P = .004); significantly less potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium intravenous piggyback supplementation (88.8% vs 94%; χ2 = 5.05, P = .026) was used; and mortality within 30 days of PN cessation was significantly less (12.7% vs 10.6%, P = .012).

Conclusion: Our study complements existing research, finding that an NST was associated with a decreased occurrence of EAs and mortality in the hospitalized adult receiving PN.


Braun, K., Utech, A., Velez, M.E. and Walker, R. (2016) Parenteral Nutrition Electrolyte Abnormalities and Associated Factors Before and After Nutrition Support Team Initiation. JPEN. October 18th. [epub ahead of print].

doi: 10.1177/0148607116673186

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