Neutropenic Diet

Last Modified: April 4, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I am working at a small community hospital. Our hospital does not have a uniform policy on Neutropenic diets--would you be able/willing to share what the policy is at your hospital for in-patients and how you help transition these patients to follow any neutropenic guidelines as out-patients?  

Answer

Ellen Sweeney Cordes, RD, Registered Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Our policy is that all autologous, allogeneic, and mini-allogeneic transplants as well as induction chemotherapy patients all receive a neutropenic diet while in the hospital. Our neutropenic diet is fairly standard, restricting most raw fruits and vegetables, restaurant food, and unpasteurized juices and dairy. Patients are also taught proper food handling and food safety and sanitation guidelines. Autologous, mini-allogeneic, and induction chemo patients go home without any diet restrictions. Allogeneic transplant patients are restricted to the neutropenic diet (even as outpatients) until they are off of immunosuppressive medications. All patients undergoing the above procedures are educated on the diet upon admission by the in-patient BMT dietitian or via an out-patient class that they all must attend prior to their transplant to receive information on the BMT process. When patients are discharged they are followed in the out-patient clinic by the out-patient oncology dietitian on an as needed basis. The in-patient dietitian will transfer patient information to the out-patient dietitian when patients are discharged in order for their nutrition care to continue as an out-patient.