If you have ever eaten hospital cafeteria food or been a patient receiving food trays three times each day, you know how unappealing and nutritionally deficient hospital food can be.
Having food delivered from a nearby restaurant can be an appealing alternative, but is it acceptable at your facility?
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Can Outside Food Be Delivered to a Hospital?
Although some hospitals may have prohibitions in place, the majority of health care facilities do allow employees and patient visitors to order outside food. While this can be a nice change from often unappetizing hospital food, it may not be the best choice in all circumstances.
Can Employees or Patient Visitors Have Food Delivered in the Hospital?
Before ordering food delivery to a hospital, be sure to ask about hospital policy.
Some may frown upon outside food, report you to your supervisor or completely ban outside food for patients.
Plus, with some hospitals now opting for more nutritious, locally grown, and tasty food, you may find that you do not need to rely on delivery services to tame your hungry stomach.
I have ordered food in to the nurses’ station many times along with my coworkers. However, this was usually done during the night shift when the rest of the floor was quiet.
The food should never take away from your work and should never negatively affect the opinion patients have of your facility.
Be Sure to Consider All the Angles
As you determine whether ordering in food is a good idea either for yourself or for patient visitors, you will want to think about it from many angles.
While comfort food can be good in some circumstances, food should generally be healing and life-giving.
Consider Patient Diets
Although some of your patients may be on regular diets, doctors often order specialty diets for patients with chronic conditions.
Make sure that patient visitors understand these restrictions so they either bring in healthy, homemade choices or help their loved ones choose from the approved cafeteria menu.
Consider Nutritionally Sound Choices
Malnutrition may seem as if it something that only affects those in developing countries, but a study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition states that hospital malnutrition actually affects approximately a third of U.S. hospital patients.
Clearly, nutrition is important to the recovering patient.
It can affect many chronic disease processes, including diabetes, heart health and even multiple types of cancer.
It can also affect bowel habits, pain, energy levels and much more.
If visitors want to bring in food to share with patients, encourage the healthiest possible choices.
Consider Personal Choice
If you are a nurse trying to take good care of your patients, you probably feel very invested in their nutritional choices.
Seeing a patient’s family member order in cheeseburgers or another fat-laden meal can make you feel upset because you know that those choices can bring down the patient’s health.
However, a food choice is ultimately a personal decision.
With your background in nutrition, you can help guide patients and their family members to make healthier choices, either through smart cafeteria choices, if possible, or through a food delivery service that promotes healthy yet convenient food.
Good nutrition education and positive reinforcement are the ethical choices.
While many health care facilities technically allow outside food to be delivered to employees or patient visitors, you will need to consider all the angles before deciding if this is the right decision for you.
Comment below, and tell us what your experience has been.