BAPEN’s second Nutrition Screening Week Survey Report (NSW08) has revealed that weighing scales are not being calibrated on a regular basis contrary to national standards and an alert from the Department of Health.
Without accurate scales to use to gain weight information, patients and residents in care may be “misclassified” as being at risk of malnutrition or not.
BAPEN’s NSW08 Report reveals that the practice of regular calibration of scales varies in all care settings. It was more likely to occur in care homes (84%) than in hospitals (60%) and least likely to happen in mental health units (33%).
Professor Marinos Elia, Co-Lead of NSW08 states: “With more than 1 in 4 of admissions into hospital, 1 in 5 on admission to Mental Health Units and over 1 in 3 admitted to care homes being identified at risk of malnutrition as recorded during BAPEN’s NSW08, it is vital that accurate information is collected on weight so that the risk of malnutrition for every individual can be measured accurately and appropriate care plans implemented. That cannot happen if scales are not calibrated on a regular basis.
Hospitals, care homes and mental health units not calibrating their scales regularly are failing to meet national recommendations and are ignoring a Department of Health alert.
Failure to ensure that scales are regularly calibrated may indicate that health and care organisations are not taking malnutrition and nutritional care and treatment seriously enough.”
BAPEN’s NSW08 Report has collated results from 130 hospitals, 75 care homes and 17 mental health units, covering data from 5089 adult patients in hospital, 614 residents in care homes and 185 patients in mental health units.
“Malnutrition” was recorded in BAPEN’s NSW08 as common in all types of care homes and hospitals, all types of wards and diagnostic categories, and across all ages. Most of those affected were in the high risk category.
The overall results are similar to those obtained in BAPEN’s 2007 Nutrition Screening Week, with the exception of a higher prevalence of “malnutrition” in care homes found in the 2008 survey (42% v 30%).
Christine Russell Co-Lead of NSW08 also states: “One other area of major concern revealed in BAPEN’s NSW08 Report is that some hospitals and mental health units are still failing routinely and consistently to include information on malnutrition risk or status on discharge.
Nutrition information should be “handed on” as individuals transfer from one care setting to another.
Our 2008 Survey reveals that, although the numbers involved are small, at least 1 in 2 of those admitted from care home to hospital are at risk of malnutrition, the majority at high risk.”
Only around 50% of the hospitals and 36% of the mental health units contributing to this survey said they always or usually included malnutrition information on discharge.
The results of BAPEN’s NSW08 (Summer) and NSW07 (Autumn) should be regarded as interim results as it is planned to undertake two more Screening Weeks in 2010 and 2011 to complete surveys across all four seasons. The data obtained in the four seasons will be analysed together to obtain a more complete picture of “malnutrition” in the UK. BAPEN’s NSW10 to cover the winter season will take place 12-14 January 2010.
The nutritional screening undertaken in BAPEN’s Nutrition Screening Week Audits in the UK uses consistent criteria across all settings based on BAPEN’s Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, the “MUST”.
Participating hospitals, care homes and mental health units have now received their results from BAPEN so they can benchmark their own local prevalence figures and screening practice against the national picture presented in this new BAPEN Report.
Results from BAPEN’s second Nutrition Screening Week will be discussed at BAPEN’s 2009 Conference “Malnutrition Matters” (13/14 October, Cardiff International Arena, Cardiff) together with plans for BAPEN’s NSW10.