Food and Behaviour Research

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A Comprehensive Nutrition-Focused Quality Improvement Program Reduces 30-Day Readmissions and Length of Stay in Hospitalized Patients

Krishnan Sriram, MD, FCCM, FRCS(C), FACS, Suela Sulo, PhD Suela Sulo See all articles by this author Search Google Scholar for this author , Gretchen VanDerBosch, RD, LDN, Jamie Partridge, PhD, MBA, Josh Feldstein, BA, Refaat A. Hegazi, MD, PhD, Wm. Thomas Summerfelt, PhD (2016) Journal of Parental and Enteral Nutrition   

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Abstract:

Background: Although screening patients for malnutrition risk on hospital admission is standard of care, nutrition shortfalls are undertreated. Nutrition interventions can improve outcomes. We tested effects of a nutrition-focused quality improvement program (QIP) on hospital readmissionand length of stay (LOS). Materials and Methods: QIP included malnutrition risk screening at admission, prompt initiation of oral nutrition supplements (ONS) for at-risk patients, and nutrition support. A 2-group, pre-post design of malnourished adults with any diagnosis was conducted at 4 hospitals: QIP-basic (QIPb) and QIP-enhanced (QIPe). Comparator patients had a malnutrition diagnosis and ONS orders. For QIPb, nurses screened all patients on admission using an electronic medical record (EMR)–cued Malnutrition Screening Tool (MST); ONS was provided to patients with MST scores ≥2 within 24–48 hours. QIPe had ONS within 24 hours, postdischarge nutrition instructions, telephone calls, and ONS coupons. Primary outcome was 30-day unplanned readmission. We used baseline (January 1–December 31, 2013) and validation cohorts (October 13, 2013–April 2, 2014) for comparison. Results: Patients (n = 1269) were enrolled in QIPb (n = 769) and QIPe (n = 500). Analysis included baseline (n = 4611) and validation (n = 1319) comparator patients. Compared with a 20% baseline readmission rate, post-QIP relative reductions were 19.5% for all QIP, 18% for QIPb, and 22% for QIPe, respectively. Compared with a 22.1% validation readmission rate, relative reductions were 27.1%, 25.8%, and 29.4%, respectively. Similar reductions were noted for LOS. Conclusions: Thirty-day readmissions and LOS were significantly lowered for malnourished inpatients by use of an EMR-cued MST, prompt provision of ONS, patient/caregiver education, and sustained nutrition support.