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Nutrition Assessment Score validation and the implications for usage

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Introduction Malnutrition in hospital is a well‐documented and significant problem and contributes to increased recovery times, length of stays, cost to the NHS and patient mortality and morbidity. Malnutrition in hospitals has been found to be in excess of 40% of admissions. In spite of the fact that nutritional support has been found to benefit patients, referral rates to dietetic services do not reflect these levels. A study was carried out in Hairmyres Hospital to validate a nutritional assessment score (NAS) and assess the benefits and costs of introducing this assessment as a routine part of nursing care.

Methods  An NAS was completed for all patients admitted to two medical and two surgical wards over a 4‐week period and nutritionally assessed by a dietitian. Assessment was carried out on admission and weekly thereafter, for 118 patients, resulting in a total of 150 assessments.

Results  With a scoring system of: On Admission: Refer if score is 6 or above, On Review: Refer if score is 4 or above, it was found that 92% of patients at risk of malnutrition would be appropriately referred on admission and 100% of those patients not appropriately referred would be referred on review.

Discussion and conclusions The study shows the NAS to be a valid tool for nutritional assessment and a useful aid to nursing staff in assessing risk of malnutrition and need for nutritional support. It suggests that the NAS could be used to indicate the need for nursing and dietetic intervention. The Dietetic Department could anticipate approximately 1880 new nutritional support referrals per year from general medical and surgical wards. The introduction of such an assessment tool has resource implications for dietitians, nurses and catering staff but should provide benefits to the patients and the hospital.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride G75 8RG, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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