A landmark federal ruling that all qualified nutrition professionals—not just registered dietitians—may order therapeutic diets in hospitals has leveled the playing field between nutrition professionals and registered dietitians.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) ruled that: “all patient diets, including therapeutic diets, must be ordered by a practitioner responsible for the care of the patient, or by a qualified dietitian or qualified nutrition professional as authorized by the medical staff and in accordance with State law.”
The ruling adopts the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists’ (BCNS) formal recommendation to CMS that qualified nutrition professionals obtain any privileges granted to Registered Dietitians.
The ruling goes on to state:
“We agree with commenters that the regulatory language for § 482.28 should be inclusive of all qualified nutrition professionals. We do not agree with commenters who requested that we use the term “registered dietitian” or define “qualified dietitian” as an individual specifically registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration. We agree that a more flexible approach would be the best way to ensure that patients benefit from the improved quality of care that these professionals can bring to hospital food and dietetic services.”
“This ruling has vast implications for the nutrition profession,” said BCNS President Sidney Stohs, PhD, CNS, FACN, ATS. “It embraces the right of a variety of highly qualified nutrition professionals—such as certified nutrition specialists—to practice in hospitals, and rejects the assertion that registered dietitians should have an exclusive right to provide medical nutrition therapy. Most importantly, this ruling is a victory for patients, giving hospitals flexibility in determining which type of nutrition provider will best serve its patients’ health.”