Nutrition-focused program for hospital patients reduces readmissions by 30%: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock / dolgachov
© iStock / dolgachov

Related tags Hospital Health care Malnutrition

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.”

Study details

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.

The total economic burden (direct & indirect) of disease-associated malnutrition in the US is estimated to be $157 billion each year (Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 2014, Vol. 38, No. 2, Suppl 77S-85S).Image © iStock

Of the 1,269 participants in the study, almost half were at risk of malnutrition. The data showed that 30-day unplanned readmission risk decreased by about 20%, while the length of stay in the hospital also decreased by 25%, or about two days.

 “Our results show that nutrition care can improve patient health outcomes, and it can also improve health system quality indicators,” ​wrote the researchers. “Together, such results provide a rationale for expanding our nutrition-focused [quality improvement program] to all our hospitals, as well as to other hospital systems.”

Source: Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/0148607116681468
“A Comprehensive Nutrition-Focused Quality Improvement Program Reduces 30-Day Readmissions and Length of Stay in Hospitalized Patients”
Authors: K. Sriram et al.

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