HPN should not be restricted to lying in bed or staying at home unless that is your choice or is necessary for your individual needs. Portable feeding pumps have made it easier to be mobile whilst receiving your feed. Not all patients want to use a portable pump but improved mobility can be achieved with smaller drip stands for use around the home.
What to do in the event of a complication while on holiday should be something considered well before departure or when it happens. Whether holidaying abroad or at home, you should have a plan. Consider who you would contact based on where you are going or how you would get back home. If travelling abroad it is essential that you have appropriate travel insurance to cover any medical care and medication you may require. Medication and hospital costs can be expensive in some countries. When travelling to Europe ensure you take your EHIC card. Always check prior to departure that your EHIC card is valid. If applying via the internet for a EHIC card do not pay for it – these are free. It is essential that if you feel unwell or suspect anything is not right you SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY, if only to reassure yourself that everything is ok. If you are travelling abroad do consider that there could be a language barrier where English is not widely spoken or understood. If this is the case then you should consider ensuring that any relevant medical information supplied by your hospital is translated so you are able to convey key message to people who may be caring for you.
The most common complication to arise from PN is INFECTION and recognising the early signs are extremely important. You will be given comprehensive information to recognise the signs and instructions on what you will need to do. If this does not happen ensure you ask prior to discharge. Always make sure you know how to contact your medics outside of normal working hours. Never ignore obvious signs of infection or complications.n All hospitals when discharging patients home on PN should provide written information on procedures, complications, contact details along with any other information they feel appropriate. Not all line infections result in the removal of the line, they should be preserved for as long as is possible in situ. A decision will be made depending on the type of infection as to whether a treatment plan can be instigated and successfully save the line. This will vary but removing the line should not be seen as the only option. If you find yourself in a hospital other than your treating hospital it may be advisable for the consultant caring for you makes contact with your own consultant so they can discuss treatment options.
Some patients will require PN for only a short time, such as to permit the digestive system to rest following surgery or illness or for a variety of reasons. For others they will require PN for the rest of their lives. If a specific condition improves then PN can be reduced or in some cases patients may be switched to enteral feeding depending on their specific medical needs.
With careful management and following the hygienic protocols described by your hospital nutrition team, you should find that you experience very few problems, but it is unrealistic to pretend that nothing can go wrong and therefore you will be given information about the types of things that can occur and more importantly the initial signs and symptoms to be aware that something may not be right.