Risk of severe harm and death from infusing total parenteral nutrition too rapidly in babies

A warning alert has been issued on the risk of harm and death from infusing total parenteral nutrition too rapidly in babies.

Patient Safety Alerts are shared rapidly with healthcare providers via the Central Alerting System (CAS).

About this Alert

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN, also known as PN) is a method of providing nutrition directly into the bloodstream to those unable to absorb nutrients from the food they eat. In babies its use is often temporary as part of a planned programme of nutrition to supplement milk feeds in those too immature to suckle or too sick to receive milk feeds as a result of intestinal conditions.

The rate at which TPN is administered to a baby is crucial: if infused too fast there is a risk of fluid overload, potentially leading to coagulopathy, liver damage and impaired pulmonary function as a result of fat overload syndrome.

All organisations providing NHS funded-care where TPN is administered to neonates and young babies must ensure an action plan is underway to reduce the risk of harm to babies through TPN administration.

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