CMS Gives Hospital Workers More Nutrition Autonomy

John Commins, May 14, 2014

A revised federal rule allows registered dieticians who work in hospitals to practice at the top of their license. It's being welcomed by hospital associations as a way to save time and money.

Starting July 11, hospital registered dietitians will have the authority to write therapeutic diet orders for patients without necessarily getting prior approval from physicians.

The enhanced autonomy for RDs is part of sweeping rules changes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services believes can save about $3.4 billion over five years. The new rules respond to President Obama's 2011 Executive Order 13563 which encouraged the federal bureaucracy to reduce or revise antiquated and unnecessarily burdensome rules and regulations.

CMS says the rules changes for dietitians "save hospitals significant resources by permitting registered dietitians to order patient diets independently, which they are trained to do, without requiring the supervision or approval of a physician or other practitioner. This frees up time for physicians and other practitioners to care for patients."

Provider stakeholders appear to be OK with this new rule. Understandably, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is delighted. The new rule validates their professionalism and expands their scope, allowing them to practice at the top of their license.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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