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Hospitals urged to act on malnutrition “epidemic”

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 3, 2013

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A new interdisciplinary group of health professional organizations says all new hospital patients should be assessed for the risk of malnutrition.

The Society of Hospital Medicine — the medical society for hospitalists — joined with organizations representing medical-surgical nurses, nutritionists and dietitians in May to call for stepping up screening for malnutrition, which doubles the risk of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and triples the odds of health care-associated infections.

Providing nutrition therapy to malnourished patients can cut hospital stays, costs and readmissions, said the coalition, called the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition. A third of patients are malnourished upon hospital admission, with more becoming malnourished during the course of their stay, research shows.

“We have a malnutrition epidemic in our hospitals, and now is the time to address this widespread issue,” said Kelly Tappenden, PhD, a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

The alliance said every patient deemed at risk for malnutrition should get a personalized, documented nutrition care plan that follows them from admission to discharge. More information about the alliance, which receives funding from Abbott’s nutritional products division, is available at its website (link).

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