Published Jan 15, 2014
Just a quick question--I have a friend who is at Bellevue in New York recovering from hip fracture and she says no one is allowed to bring in "outside food". She isn't neutropenic, she doesn't have liver or kidney disease, she isn't morbidly obese, no reason I can think of that she would be on a strict calorie count. I've never heard of a hospital not allowing people to bring in food as a general policy! Can this be true?
Flare, ASN, BSN
i took a quick peek at the visitor guidelines and it doesn't expressly say you can't bring anything from the outside in- just says you must consult with unit staff before giving it to the patient - which is sensible - we don't want to feed Aunt Helga when she's supposed to be NPO.
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blondy2061h, MSN, RN
We let our neutropenic, immunosuppressed patients have food from the outside as long as it meets our low microbial guidelines. This is odd. She's in the hospital, not prison.
If you do bring outside food what would they do?
classicdame, MSN, EdD
Is this a policy or a perception? Might have been mis-interpreted
xoemmylouox, ASN, RN
Well I think if you check with the Nurse before you give her any food you should be fine.
Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN
Check with the staff there may very well be a good reason.
psu_213, BSN, RN
I can't speak to the precise policy at Bellevue, but not allowing family to bring in food to pts (except in certain circumstances) seems to me like a Press-Gainey nightmare!
Thanks for the responses. I thought maybe I was off-base. My friend is a rule-follower and has never been a patient before... I'm guessing she saw the thing that said no one should bring in outside food without permission from the doctor, the general "rule" we h...ave everywhere because of special diets, and assumed that that meant no one should bring food in to anyone... she probably thinks people would have to "bother" the doctor about it. Sadly, i can't imagine trying to get well on the food they serve at my hospital--anyone who can afford it and has family/friends supplements it a lot or doesn't eat the hospital food at all. The food service at my last job was excellent and people didn't have to rely on outside food as much.
Some hospitals and units limit it due to risk of substance abuse-visitors hiding extra pain meds in Big Macs causing pts to require extra intervention
At the state psych hospital where I worked, there was to be NO outside food or drink brought in to patients or by patients returning from passes. NONE. Not half a cup of unfinished soft drink, not a special brand of something like peanut butter, not homebaked brownies or cookies. Nothing at all. Any brown bag lunches, drinks such as coffee, juice, etc. went straight into the locked meds room.
When my mom was in and out of the hospital the last few years of her life, the outside food rules seemed to vary by the whims of whomever was nurse manager on a given day rather than any set hospital policy. Mom had breast and liver cancer and her appetite was virtually nonexistent. I wanted to do whatever I could do to get some food into her. I spoke with her doctors, they wrote notes
in her chart to the effect that she could have whatever foods or drinks she wanted while in the hospital. It sounded good in theory but didn't work out too well in actual practice because some hide-bound nurses couldn't get past the "a rule is a rule" point. Explaining that Dr. ___ bent the rule because my 6' mom's weight had dropped from 155# to 105# was frustrating and absolutely futile.
With some of the other nurses, we could have brought in ten bags of groceries and our stove from home and they'd only have asked whether we needed anything.
I really do understand and agree with the need for a few rules regarding outside food but there occasionally needs to be some flexibility.
When my husband was in the hospital with cancer, he had little appetite. The dietician working with him arranged for him to be brought a mini-bottle of red wine with his meal, per his request. I'll always be grateful to her!
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