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Hospital Nutrition Program Reduces Patient Readmissions

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 Dec 2016
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Image: A new study shows an optimized nutrition program improves patient outcomes (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).
Image: A new study shows an optimized nutrition program improves patient outcomes (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).
A new study shows that optimizing nutrition care in the hospital could help reduce 30-day readmission rates by 27% and average hospital stay by almost two days.

Researchers at Advocate Health Care (Downers Grove, IL, USA) and Abbott (Abbott Park, IL, USA) conducted a study to test the effects of a nutrition-focused quality improvement program (QIP) on hospital readmission and length of stay in 1,269 patients. The patients were randomized to QIP-basic (QIPb, 769 patients) and QIP-enhanced (QIPe, 500 patients) cohorts. The QIPb patients were screened on admission, with oral nutrition supplements (ONS) provided to malnourished patients within 24-48 hours. The 500 QIPe patients received ONS within 24 hours, post-discharge nutrition instructions, telephone calls, and coupons for further supplements.

Primary outcome was 30-day unplanned readmission. The results showed that when compared to the hospitals' previous readmission rates and lengths of stay for malnourished patients, the nutrition care programs reduced the risk of patient readmissions from 22.1% to 16.1%, and shortened the patient's length of stay from 7.2 days to 5.4 days, a 25% reduction. The study was published on December 6, 2016, in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

“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 lead author Krishnan Sriram, MD, a tele-intensivist at Advocate Health Care. “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.”

“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 study co-author Suela Sulo, PhD, a health outcomes researcher at Abbott. “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.”

While nutrition screenings are considered standard-of-care in the hospital setting, not all use a validated screening tool or implement treatment immediately if someone is considered at-risk. Additionally, when people leave the hospital, many times they do not receive education or follow-up to ensure they are following a nutrition plan to aid their recovery.

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