Lawyer Monthly - January 2022 Edition

o give a brief summary, what does a dietitian do? A registered dietitian nutritionist is an expert in the field of dietetics who is qualified to advise people and organisations on food and nutrition choices. These experts are expected to have met academic and professional requirements, including being a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What regulations are you, as a dietitian, called to enforce? Key regulations include the standards of practice as established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as state, local and national health and accrediting agencies. These may include the Joint Commission on Accreditation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Serv©Safe of the National Restaurant Association, USDA child nutrition programs, affiliation agreements and individual contracts. How do you apply your knowledge as an expert witness? The knowledge of a registered T The Underestimated Expertise of Dietitians The registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a profession that is essential to the dissemination of accurate nutrition information and the proper delivery of food services across a broad swathe of organizations and venues in the US. Below, we hear from accredited dietitian Bonnie Berube on how these professionals gain their expertise and why they have a good deal to offer as expert witnesses. 66 WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | JAN 2022 EXPERT WITNESS licensed dietitian is utilised in expert witness testimony to evaluate if the standards of care or regulations have been met in the care of clients, patients, customers, and institutions. The dietitian holds the role of nutrition care expert in these facilities and is responsible for the nutrition care of patients and assurance of the facility’s capacity to conduct food service operations under all regulatory requirements. The testimony and knowledge of the expert will provide fact-based evidence and credibility to the case. The USDA, Federal Food Code, CMS, Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies have specific standards of compliance. The dietitian can address whether those standards were met in terms of food service and nutrition care. What sorts of cases do you advise on, and how does your role differ when advising plaintiffs or defence? Examples of the kinds of cases I have been involved in include malnutrition, pressure wounds, bariatric surgery, food safety, failure to thrive, standards of care and compliance lawsuits. I have provided expert witness services nationally and have been retained by both plaintiff and defence firms. I have also presented on the work of a registered dietitian nutritionist at a national meeting of the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers). Why is the expertise of a dietitian crucial for the just outcome of these cases? The testimony of a registered licensed dietitian is essential to the outcome of cases to confirm that the standards of care and regulatory requirements were met. In addition, they can advise on whether or not the “dietitian of record” was participating and under contract. An expert dietitian can evaluate medical records, physician orders, nutritional assessments and all other pertinent information as related to standards of practice for patients, residents, clients. For food service matters, the dietitian expert can evaluate menus, Health Department inspections, staffing, training and education, budgeting and other operational issues to assure food safety. How can somebody become a licensed dietitian? To become a registered dietitian nutritionist, an individual must be a graduate of an approved program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Next, the person must also have completed an accredited supervised practice program in a healthcare facility, community agency, or food service agency, passed a national A Registered Licensed Dietitian has a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree and will be required to have a Master’s Degree in 2024.

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