PhilSPEN Online Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

(Article 128 | POJ_0120) January-June 2018)

The First Philippine Hospital Nutrition Summit – Report on the presence of nutrition teams and current status of clinical nutrition practice in the Philippines, 2014

Introduction | Methodology | Results | Discussion | References | Back to Total Names Codes

Submitted: June 10, 2018 | Posted: June 11, 2018


Rodolfo Dimaano Jr, MD (1) and Luisito Llido, MD (2)

Corresponding Author: Luisito O. Llido MD; Email:


    1. Abbott Nutrition Philippines
    2. Philippine Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition

KEYWORDS: NST, nutrition teams, Philippines



The status of patient nutrition in the hospital has become a global concern for the past two decades since the first article on hospital malnutrition was published in 1994. (1) Today this concern has become multidisciplinary in scope and national societies were organized to address hospital malnutrition, critical care, post-operative, oncologic, geriatric care management and the list is growing. The Philippines is one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region, which has an active nutrition society, the Philippine Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition or PhilSPEN. (2) The primary aim of the society since its foundation in 1994 was to promote the development of clinical nutrition practice in every major hospital in the country through the strategy of installing nutrition teams in these institutions. A key factor in making this a reality was the setting up of a clinical nutrition fellowship training program, started in 2000, which trains physicians in the art and science of clinical nutrition and encourage these specialists to ultimately organize and head these nutrition teams in their specific institutions. The participation of industry in this program was and still is a major catalyst in sustaining this movement which was done through sharing of their vast resources for clinical nutrition education and providing logistics for holding yearly PhilSPEN clinical nutrition congresses and nutrition seminars throughout the country.

Abbott Nutrition is right in the thick of the crusade for pushing for the success of the clinical nutrition program through its support of symposia and sharing its own educational instruments like the Total Nutrition Therapy or TNT (1999)(3) and similar activities for different sub-specialties which are going on up to the present. In 2010 it launched the first Hospital Nutrition State of the Art Summit in Manila, which reported on the practice of clinical nutrition in selected hospitals in the U.S. and Asia Pacific region. (4) Subsequent symposia on hospital nutrition state of the art practice in clinical nutrition followed. In 2014 Abbott Philippines organized its First Philippine Hospital Nutrition Summit whose primary goals were: 1) To create awareness among hospital policy makers and key health care providers on the state of nutrition in Philippine hospitals and 2) To present strategies that identify hospital malnutrition and design steps to help improve patient outcomes. The was done through a survey which investigated the status of clinical nutrition practice in selected hospitals in the country. This is the report on the results of the survey.


A two-level structured survey was conducted on selected hospitals in the country. (Table 1) The first level survey was focused on determining the presence of clinical nutrition practice in the institution and the presence of an organized nutrition team.


The survey questions (Table 2) were distributed six months before the actual reporting (June 18, 2014). The distribution of surveys and collection of data were done by representatives of Abbott Nutrition and the data synthesis by a team representing both PhilSPEN and Abbott Nutrition.


The second level survey was done in the actual workshop, where all participants were asked to discuss their “felt-needs” in either organizing a clinical nutrition program or setting up a clinical nutrition team. (Table 3) The patient populations, which were covered in the survey were the adult and elderly population.

In essence the features of the clinical nutrition process that will determine the level of development of the institution are the following:

  1. Level 1 or Basic Level: presence of a system of nutrition screening and/or presence of a nutrition assessment process. This means the hospital has complied the minimum requirement for an active clinical nutrition program – a diagnostic and/or preventive tool for malnutrition detection. Hospitals must have these processes in place
    • Step 1: Nutrition screening = entry level diagnostic process for malnutrition detection; indicator used: presence of a nutrition screening tool or physicians’ entry of height and weight in the patient’s chart
    • Step 2: Nutrition assessment = higher level process of qualifying the degree the malnutrition of the initially detected “at risk of developing malnutrition” patient; indicator used: presence of a nutrition assessment tool (e.g. the PhilSPEN nutrition assessment tool) (5)
  2. Level 2 or Intermediate Level: presence of an interventional clinical nutrition process like nutrition care plan, food intake monitoring or feeding protocols. These steps should be in place:
    • Step 3: Nutrition care plan development and implementation = the initial interventional aspect of patient care where the nutritional requirements are determined and the manner of delivery of nutrients designed
    • Step 4: Nutrition care delivery and monitoring; the indicators used here are the presence of feeding protocols which includes gastric residual volume monitoring
  3. Level 3 or Advanced Level: presence of a clinical nutrition team with both Level 1 and Level 2 processes in place
    • Steps 1 to 4 are in place
    • Step 5: The monitoring process includes documentation of the nutrition delivery process and analysis on improving the nutrition care process

Then the hospitals with the same levels were grouped together and their specific “felt-needs” discussed. Then practical approaches were brainstormed and solutions recommended to solve/handle these needs/issues.



Level 1 Hospitals: Table 4 shows the hospitals placed in the “Basic” category.


Seventy seven to eighty percent (77% - 80%) of the participating hospitals had a nutrition screening and assessment process, which indicates a high degree of awareness for the need to identify malnutrition among the patients. The majority of hospitals, which had nutrition screening and assessment tools were in the National Capital Regions and Luzon.

Level 2 Hospitals: Table 5 shows the hospitals placed in the “Intermediate”  category:


Fifty to fifty eight percent of the participating hospitals (50% - 58%) had Level 2 competencies (=interventional nutrition process like feeding protocols and monitoring e.g. GRV monitoring).  Utilization of pure commercial formulas for the hospital diet and enteral nutrition is within the range of 20% - 30% while mixed blendered and commercial formulas comprise 2/3 (73%) of all feeding regimens (range: 64% - 100%).

Level 3 Hospitals: Table 6 shows the hospitals placed in the “Advanced” category:


There are 7/26 or 27% of participating hospitals which have a fully functioning clinical nutrition program with a nutrition team in place. Most of them are in the urban centers like Manila, Cebu and Davao indicating that the level of quality care is still highest in the urban areas and still to be developed in the provinces.

“Felt-Needs” of the different hospitals: Table 7 shows the felt needs of the different institutions in setting up a clinical nutrition program:




The hospitals, which presented their state of affairs in the practice of clinical nutrition, were mainly private institutions (92%) – there were only two participating government hospitals (2/26 or 8%). The presence of a clinical nutrition process in the hospital is the benchmark which qualifies an institution as basic, intermediate, or advanced level in terms of quality of nutrition care.

46% (12/26) of hospitals declared they have some form of nutrition screening process, which place them on the basic level, but it is not clear whether this was done on all admitted patients. However 80% indicated they have a nutrition screening tool, with the PhilSPEN nutrition screening tool as the preferred one (44%). This is encouraging in regard to the efforts of the society (PhilSPEN) in promoting malnutrition detection in the hospitals for the past twenty (20) years. Today it is shown that every institution has placed malnutrition detection (=nutrition screening) in its primary care procedures. (2) 77% (20/26) of these hospitals are performing nutrition assessment of their high-risk patients.

For hospitals on the intermediate level around 58% to 73% (n=15 to 19) already have protocols for feeding critical care patients and monitoring their progress. Some areas still need improvement like establishing adequate energy and nutrient intake levels or gastric residual volume protocols, but they are already on track. It will only be a matter of time before they will reach the advanced level.

Hospitals which have reached the advanced level comprise 27% (7/26) of the whole participant population. This may at first appear low, but reviewing the history of the development of nutrition teams in the country, this is good evidence which shows that the drive to establish nutrition teams may be slow, but sure – from 22% in 1998 to 27% today (2014). (7) What is notable at this time is the focus and awareness of clinical nutrition practice – it is still in the urban centers and not much in the provincial levels. There is a lot of work needed in this area, perhaps the current thrust of doing regional clinical nutrition conferences by PhilSPEN may help. (8)

So what factors may help to fast track this development concern? In the “felt-needs” data, these are the primary concerns and possible solutions:

  1. Nutrition screening and assessment forms are readily available in the PhilSPEN website. A regular provision for downloading and supporting availability of these forms to the interested institutions can be done both by Abbott Nutrition and PhilSPEN. Seminars and symposia can be organized to familiarize these tools in the hospital
  2. Nutrition care plan development and formulation – the process of teaching all institutions on the formulation of nutrition care and designing each patent’s requirement can be done through different symposia either through a regional or individual hospital context. (8) Again the partnership between PhilSPEN and industry will be able to address this area of development.
  3. The current need for references as to what or how to implement nutrition therapy is one of the priorities in clinical nutrition practice development. Here provision of clinical nutrition guidelines as well as literature or study/research materials will help every institution update or revise their current diet practice and patient care. The vast resources of industry will help in providing these requirements with guidance or through proposals from either PhilSPEN or medical/surgical societies. Large international societies like ASPEN (American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition) (9), ESPEN (European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism) (10) have created consensus guidelines in clinical nutrition practice in major specialty areas with updates done on a regular basis. By having these information within reach through postings or actual sharing of articles PhilSPEN and Abbott Nutrition can do much in filling up this need. At this time there are now attempts to make simplified clinical nutrition on the local level. 

Changes in practice in clinical nutrition are now seen. In this conference no participant has indicated using full blenderized tube feeding formula for enteral nutrition (26/26 or 100%). This is an important development specially in the area of patient safety since two local studies have both raised the issue of bacterial contamination in all hospital blenderized diets. (11,12). Improvements in practice still need to be seen in the following areas: calculation of energy and protein intake, monitoring of actual nutrient intake, need to measure gastric residuals and when to stop feeding. Industry and PhilSPEN can help through sponsoring studies in these areas and organizing competitions for researches done in the same areas.

The establishment of clinical nutrition teams in every institution may still be far-off, but with the partnership of PhilSPEN, the different medical societies and industry this goal may be fast-tracked. A key factor is sustainability of the nutrition team and others call this the ROI (=Return of Investment) factor. The seven (7) participant hospitals, which have the full clinical nutrition program and nutrition team, have shown the way. They had different approaches and manner of reaching this goal, but the common factor is - the team is headed or coordinated by a graduate or graduates of the clinical nutrition fellowship training program at St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City. (13) Industry can help in this goal by providing resources that will help develop and/or sustain the practice and team in clinical nutrition in the hospital setting.



  1. Butterworth CE Jr. The skeleton in the hospital closet. Nutrition1994; 10(5): 442.
  2. History of clinical nutrition in the Philippines. Philippine Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (PhilSPEN) website. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2015.
  3. Waitzberg DL et al. Total nutritional therapy: a nutrition education program for physicians. Nutr Hosp 2004; 19(1): 28-33.
  4. First hospital nutrition state of the art summit: Abbott Nutrition. Available at Accessed July 18, 2015.
  5. Lacuesta-Corro L et al. The results of the validation process of a Modified SGA (Subjective Global Assessment) Nutrition Assessment and Risk Level Tool designed by the Clinical Nutrition Service of St. Luke’s Medical Center, a tertiary care hospital in the Philippines. PhilSPEN Online Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition; Article 12 (Issue February 2012 - December 2014): 1-7. Available at: Accessed July 17, 2015.
  6. First Philippine Hospital Nutrition Summit: St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City best practice presentation (Financial viability, Slides 7-10). Available at: Accessed July 18, 2015.
  7. Hospital Malnutrition and Clinical Nutrition Program Task Force, Philippines. The role of the PHILSPEN and clinical nutrition fellowship training program. PhilSPEN Online Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition; Article 5 | POJ_0017.html) Issue January 2010 - January 2012: 48-49. Available at: Accessed July 20, 2015.
  8. The PhilSPEN regional clinical nutrition congress. Available in Accessed July 21, 2015.
  9. American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN). Available at: Accessed July 21, 2015.
  10. European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolsim (ESPEN). Available at: Accessed July 21, 2015.
  11. Tanchoco CC et al. Enteral feeding in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. Respirology 2001; 6(1): 43–50.
  12. Sullivan MM et al. Bacterial contamination of blenderized whole food and commercial enteral tube feedings in the Philippines. J Hosp Inf 2001; 49(4): 268-273.
  13. The clinical nutrition fellowship training program. PhilSPEN website. Available at Accessed July 21, 2015.

Introduction | Methodology | Results | Discussion | References | Back to Total Names Codes