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Hospital Healthcare Europe
Hospital Healthcare Europe

Malnutrition risk in one in three patients

10 April, 2008  

The British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN)’s Nutrition Screening Week Report 2007 (NSW07) provides detailed analysis on more than 11,000 subjects in the largest prospective study on nutritional screening ever undertaken in the UK using consistent criteria across all settings based on BAPEN’s Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST).

370 reporting centres throughout the UK  (172 hospitals, 173 care homes, 22 mental health units) throughout the UK screened more than 11,000 individuals on admission (9,722 in hospital, 1,610 residents in care and 336 admitted to mental health units)

“28% of all subjects screened on admission to hospital and care during BAPEN’s Nutrition Screening Survey were shown to be at risk – the vast majority (22%) at high risk,” says BAPEN Chair and co-project lead of NSW07 Professor Marinos Elia.

“BAPEN’s NSW07 has clearly demonstrated that malnutrition is a significant public health issue which must be addressed in the community – where it starts.

“Consistent and integrated strategies to detect, prevent and treat malnutrition must be developed to effectively address malnutrition in the community and within and between all care settings to ensure that the health outcomes for all being admitted to hospital, care and mental health units are not compromised. Our data show that particular attention should be paid to those being transferred from one care setting to another.

“It is essential that everyone admitted to hospital and care is screened for malnutrition, so that all at risk are identified and an appropriate nutritional care plan put in place. Those at risk must be monitored regularly.

“The Report also demonstrates that currently nutritional screening policies and practice vary between and within health care settings, which means that malnutrition continues to be under-recognised and under-treated. ”

Data from BAPEN’s NSW07 demonstrate that malnutrition is common in all types of care homes, hospitals, all types of wards and diagnostic categories and in mental health units.  It is also common across all age groups, although risk increases with age, and women are at greater risk than men.

Christine Russell, co-project lead for BAPEN’s NSW07 states: “Health care professionals – doctors, nurses and dietitians – must work to implement consistent nutritional screening policies and practice across all settings in order to ensure that malnutrition is effectively addressed.”

Professor Elia concludes: “Participating hospitals, care homes and mental health units have now received their results so they can benchmark their own local prevalence figures and screening practice against the national picture.

Such comparison will support the drive for further implementation of universal nutritional screening and best practice in nutritional care and treatment spearheaded by BAPEN as part of the national Nutrition Action Plan.”

BAPEN’s second Nutrition Screening Week takes place 1-3 July 2008 and further results will be presented at BAPEN’s 2008 Conference ‘Malnutrition Matters’ (5-6 November 2008, Harrogate, UK).