Screening incoming patients for malnutrition and prompt initiation of an oral nutrition supplement program may shorten a patient's length of hospital stay by 25% and reduce the risk of readmission by 27%, says a new study.
“Incorporating a simple nutrition care program at hospitals can dramatically accelerate patients' recovery times, and if adopted by providers nationwide, could have tremendous benefits for the health care system at-large,” said Krishnan Sriram, MD, tele-intensivist at Advocate Health Care and lead author of the study.
“Advocate has been a pioneer in implementing data-driven, value-based care at our hospitals, but it's important for all care providers to consider the effect of even modest interventions, which can significantly improve outcomes while reducing the overall cost of care.”
Between 30% and 50% of people admitted to hospital in the US are malnourished, but this can often go unrecognized and undertreated, explained the authors in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition .
The new study by scientists at Advocate Health Care and Abbott Nutrition demonstrated the value of a validated malnutrition risk screening and immediate oral nutrition supplement to improve outcomes in at-risk hospitalized patients.
“This one-of-a-kind study is leading the way as a model for other hospitals around the world to use nutrition for improving patient care, whether they are in a rural town or urban city,” said Suela Sulo, PhD, a health outcomes researcher at Abbott and co-author of the study.
“By prioritizing nutrition in the hospital, health care providers can help ensure they are giving their patients the best chances of recovering, and getting them back to living a healthy life.”
Dr Sriram and his co-workers investigated the effects of two versions of a nutrition care program – one basic and one enhanced – at four Chicagoland hospitals. Both programs involved screening the patients for malnutrition and then providing nutrition support, while the enhanced program included more immediate intervention upon admission and follow-up calls to confirm compliance after discharge.