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Risk of malnutrition in a sample of acute and long-stay NHS Fife in-patients: an audit

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Abstract Background 

Hospital malnutrition (undernutrition) continues to attract concern. The implementation of standards for food and fluids in Scotland provided the stimulus for an audit of current practices in NHS Fife hospitals in order to provide baseline data with which to evaluate progress. Methods 

One hundred and fifty in-patients were recruited from wards likely to yield those with a high risk of malnutrition. Using patient records and anthropometry, data were collected on weight, weight change, body mass index (BMI), mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC), dietetic referral, therapeutic diets and patients’ perceptions of nutritional status. Malnutrition was estimated by comparing BMI, weight change and MUAC with the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) and standards published by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). Results 

Depending upon the standard used, the minimum risk of malnutrition varied from 14 to 25%. The prevalence was lower than that reported previously, although methods were not directly comparable. Obesity was also evident with 42% of patients having a BMI > 25. Mean weight change from admission to audit was +0.4 kg, with a wide range (−11 kg to +13 kg). Most patients identified as malnourished were referred to the dietitian or given nutritional support. Conclusions 

Fewer patients were at risk of malnutrition than expected. However, improving the provision of food and fluids remains a priority in Fife as malnutrition and eating problems can occur across the entire BMI spectrum.

Keywords: anthropometry; audit; hospital; malnutrition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Nutrition Communications, Front Lebanon, Cupar 2: Nutrition & Dietetic Department, Lynbank Hospital, Dunfermline 3: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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