New CMS rule gives dietitians order-writing privileges

Starting July 11, 2014, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists will be able to order diets in hospitals under Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation. According to CMS, "the addition of ordering privileges enhances the ability that RDNs already have to provide timely, cost-effective, and evidence-based nutrition services as the recognized nutrition experts on a hospital interdisciplinary team." While this is a big win for dietitians, it is important to understand that the new CMS rule allows dietitians to write orders, but it is not a requirement for hospitals. What you need to know about the new regulation: CMS revised the proposed regulatory language from the draft. In this final rule CMS requires 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 governing dietitians and nutrition professionals.’’ This regulation does not require hospitals and medical staff to grant or authorize specific privileges to specific practitioners, but only allows them the flexibility to do so if they choose, and only if State law allows for it. “Qualified dietitian” and “qualified nutrition professional” is the termed used by CMS in this regulation. This means an RD, RDN and “qualified” nutrition professional “…is to include all qualified dietitians and any other clinically qualified nutrition professionals, regardless of the modifying term (or lack thereof), as long as each qualified dietitian or clinically qualified nutrition professional meets the requirements of his or her respective State laws, regulations, or other appropriate professional standards.” RDN’s can be included as part of the medical staff. This is not a requirement, but something [...]