Learning More About Areas of Improvement in a Hospital Setting
Expert opinions on the importance of education and teamwork in nutrition therapy
During the annual congress of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) several experts provided their opinions on the most essential changes needed in the current hospital systems to advance nutrition therapy. They agreed that to fight disease-related malnutrition, education from professionals, staff training and teamwork, as well as having a dedicated nutritionist, are all essential. Some of the experts that provided thoughts on the subject are:
- Carolina Méndez Martínez: nutritionist and dietician at the National University of Colombia
- Dr. Mario Ignacio Perman: intensivist at the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Dr. Roger Enrique Riofrio: general surgeon at the Central University of Ecuador
- Dr. Alfredo Matos Adames, MD: professor of clinical nutrition and surgery at the School of Medicine at the University of Panama
The ESPEN Congress is a yearly convention that covers several topics in the fields of parenteral and enteral nutrition and most gathered more than 3,000 participants from 82 different countries worldwide. In September 2015, Lisbon held the annual ESPEN Congress, in which a series of interviews were conducted with well-known experts from Latin America. Below you will find some videos and more insights into these experts’ thoughts and ideas.
What are the essential assets needed in order to reduce the frequency of disease-related malnutrition?
Carolina Méndez Martínez:
The role of the team should be directed at responding to the patient’s needs. In the intensive care unit, the goal should be to work as a team so that each one of us, with what we can bring to the table, can generate and install a proper support. The ideal scenario from a nutritionist’s point of view would be to count on more personnel. There is a very limited amount of clinical nutritionists in institutions. Based on recent surveys, we are looking at one nutritionist per 50-100 patients. So detecting malnutrition with our capacities is not easy. It would be ideal to rely on more professionals that are trained and that have the correct tools to manage patients.
Dr. Mario Ignacio Perman:
In medicine schools, nutrition is not a discipline that is taught in depth. It’s more superficial. They don’t spend enough time or provide enough information which leads to a lack of knowledge and a complication in the treatment of patients. Nutritional experts are like kitchen chefs, but to be able to cook in a restaurant there has to be a team, a group, that knows the needs of the consumer. Education implies teaching the different aspects of clinical nutrition and providing resources to implement them.
Dr. Roger Enrique Riofrio:
One of the biggest problems is education. Education is very deficient, at least in Ecuador. There is no formation regarding nutrition. Universities do not provide nutrition or training courses, and neither do other post-graduation educational systems. This is one of the key missing pieces in order to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition.
Dr. Alfredo Matos Adames:
In my opinion, the root of the problem is education, poor education about clinical nutrition given to medical students. When these students become doctors and start working in hospitals, they have very little or no knowledge at all of what clinical nutrition means. This is not exclusive to medical schools. It is also applicable to nutrition, nursing and pharmacy schools that train professionals but have very little knowledge on clinical nutrition.