ASPEN Releases New Enteral Nutrition Safe Practice Recommendations

Communication and standardization throughout the EN therapy process maximizes benefits, minimizes risk, and improves patient safety   

November 7, 2016, Silver Spring, MD – Published today in the online first version of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), issued updated recommendations for safe practices in enteral nutrition (EN). More than 250,000 hospital patients in the United States — and many more in long-term care and home settings — rely on EN each year. By providing nutrition directly into the gastrointestinal tract through a feeding tube, EN is a valuable clinical intervention for all ages and in a variety of care settings. Along with its many outcome benefits, however, comes the potential for adverse effects.

I n both the adult and pediatric population, providing nutrition support is essential to promoting improved outcomes,” said Charlene Compher, PhD, RD, CNSC, LDN, FADA, FASPEN, ASPEN President. “ASPEN developed these recommendations to help prevent adverse events, including fatalities, and to help optimize outcomes in the use of EN therapy.”

Building on its 2009 recommendations, ASPEN brings an even greater level of attention to EN safety. In addition, the new set of guidelines are detailed across each step of the process, and for all clinicians involved in caring for patients who receive EN.

“The EN process is highly complex and clinical complications can occur at any step,” explained Peggi Guenter, PhD, RN, FAAN, ASPEN’s Senior Director of Clinical Practice, Quality, and Advocacy. “Maximizing the benefits of EN while minimizing adverse events requires a systematic approach to care.”

To promote a culture of safety, ASPEN recommends applying an interdisciplinary approach to incorporating the best practice recommendations. It supports this approach by aligning recommendations across all aspects of the EN therapy process: patient assessment; prescribing and implementation of the treatment plan; review and communication with the nutrition and patient support teams; placement of enteral devices and medication delivery; administration and documentation standardization; monitoring and error reporting protocols; and transition of care.

To develop the recommendations, an interdisciplinary group of ASPEN experts identified key questions related to EN practice issues with safety implications. After grouping the questions into relevant sections, the authors weighed risks against benefits to come to a set of best practice recommendations for each one.

“Safe and effective nutrition is an integral component of care,” said Compher. “Our strong hope is that this information will help clinicians achieve the best nutritional outcomes for their patients.”    


About ASPEN   

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) is dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the science and practice of nutrition support therapy and metabolism. Founded in 1976, ASPEN is an interdisciplinary organization whose members are involved in the provision of clinical nutrition therapies, including parenteral and enteral nutrition. With more than 6,500 members from around the world, ASPEN is a community of dietitians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, students, and other health professionals from every facet of nutrition support clinical practice, research, and education. For more information about ASPEN, please visit  


Alena Rosen
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