Malnutrition remains issue

Share this content:

Identifying malnutrition in patients upon admission to a hospital is a low-cost way to improve patient outcomes and reduce readmissions, a new report says.

Alleviating Hospital-Based Malnutrition: A Baseline Progress Report is an assessment of hospital-based malnutrition released in connection with the first anniversary of the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition. The group is made up of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Society of Hospital Medicine, and Abbott Nutrition, and supported through Abbott Nutrition.

The report says there can be a lack of awareness of malnutrition in hospitals, and that there can be a struggle to administer nutrition therapy quickly. Untreated malnutrition can cause medical complications, and lead to longer lengths of stay and higher readmission rates. One study found malnourished patients spent an average of 12.6 days in the hospital, compared to 4.4 days for other patients, resulting in an almost threefold increase in hospital costs.

"There is a growing body of evidence supporting the positive impact nutrition has on improving patient outcomes," said Melissa Parkhurst, M.D., FHM, and medical director of the Nutrition Support Service at the University of Kansas Hospital, and the Alliance representative for the Society of Hospital Medicine. "We are seeing that early intervention can make a significant difference.”