A web-based system for total parenteral nutrition prescription in a pediatric hospital

Michele Bava, Fulvio Bradaschia, Francesca Rovere, Alessandra Maestro, Liza Vecchi Brumatti, Agostino Accardo, Rossella Paparazzo, Davide Zanon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) is defined as feeding a patient by infusing nutrients intravenously, bypassing the usual process of eating and digestion. There are two kinds of TPN: short-term TPN may be used when a patient's digestive system is temporarily nonfunctional because of an interruption in its continuity; long-term TPN is used to treat patients with an impairment or a lack in nutrient absorption. TPN has extended the life of children born with nonexistent or severely deformed digestive organs and is a vital support for these patients. In Burlo's Pediatric Department, pediatricians fill in a pharmacy request form in which nutritional needs are included for each patient. Subsequently, clinical pharmacists evaluate the patient's individual data and decide which TPN formula to prepare. To enhance the TPN prescription process, an intranet web-based system has been developed to replicate the original paper-based forms. The software, developed in PHP and based on open source tools and services, has been constructed according to pharmacists' requirements. These professionals, together with the Hospital Information System technicians, thanks to the availability of affordable instruments, perceive the advantages that such a system would have in improving clinical practice and quality of care. The system was devised with the goal to avoid common reading errors, to improve the correct text comprehension, to ensure prescription preparation, administration and tracking. According to a process of total quality control, the system reduces clinical risks regarding issues such as the correct and rapid availability of medical prescriptions and the incorrect identification of the patients. In comparison with paper-based TPN prescriptions, electronic-based forms have reduced the incidence of errors, the possible lack of patient data and reading misunderstandings. Regarding future improvements, IT technicians are defining the procedures to implement digital signature and medical aspects of the electronic TPN medical prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomedical Sciences Instrumentation
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Digital signature
  • Nutritional needs prescription
  • PHP programming
  • TPN
  • Web-based technologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Biophysics

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