Optimising use of oral nutritional supplements
Written by: Dr. Daniel McCartney, Lecturer in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, and Ms. Caitriona Caulfield, Dietitian.
Despite recent controversy regarding the use of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) in the alleviation of disease-related malnutrition in Ireland and the UK, the weight of evidence now firmly supports the clinical efficacy of these products.
However, there is good evidence from both jurisdictions that protocols to identify malnutrition and to treat it effectively with ONS are lacking. By failing to target ONS to patients most in need of such intervention, not only is the cost of this intervention increased, but its therapeutic effectiveness is also considerably diminished.
Efforts should focus on the nutritional education of clinicians who come in contact with malnourished patients, and on the formulation and implementation of effective policies and protocols
for the detection, treatment and monitoring of malnourished patients. These measures, along with the education of patients themselves, will allow the clinical efficacy of ONS to be leveraged for
improved clinical outcome and reduced healthcare expenditure among patients who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
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