Why Malnutrition Matters
Malnutrition, sometimes referred to as “poor nutrition,” is the inadequate intake of nutrients, particularly protein, over time and can occur in people who are both underweight or overweight (including obese).
There is a high prevalence of malnutrition among hospitalized patients, but it frequently goes unrecognized
- Up to 50% of all patients are at risk for or are malnourished at the time of hospital admission1
- Only 7% of patients are typically diagnosed with malnutrition during their hospital stay2
- Up to 31% of malnourished patients and 38% of well-nourished patients experience nutritional decline during their hospital stay3
Beyond the hospital setting, malnutrition also is prevalent in the community and post-acute settings, with implications for individuals’ health and ability to heal:
Malnutrition has a significant impact on patient outcomes
- Malnourished hospitalized adults have a 54% higher likelihood of hospital 30-day readmissions than those who are well-nourished9
- Disease-associated malnutrition can lead to slower wound healing, increased infection rates, and higher risks for functional disability, frailty, and falling10,11
- Malnourished surgical patients are two to three times more likely to experience post-operative complications and increased mortality than their more well-nourished counterparts12
Worsened patient outcomes lead to increased healthcare costs and higher economic burden to the healthcare system
- Hospital costs for patients diagnosed with malnutrition are on average twice as high than their non-malnourished counterparts (averaging up to $25,200 compared to $12,500 per hospital stay)2
- Average cost per readmission is $16,900 per patient for those with protein-calorie malnutrition and $17,900 per patient for those with post-surgery non-absorption: 26% and 34% higher, respectively, than readmission costs for patients without malnutrition4
- Patients with malnutrition may have longer lengths of stay by up to 4 to 6 days13
- Economic burden of morbidity, mortality, and direct medical costs associated with disease-related malnutrition in the U.S. totals $157 billion, with $51.3 billion attributed to those age 65 years and older who are the most at risk14
For a resource outlining additional details on the burden and impact of malnutrition, click here.
To view references, please, click here.
Learning Collaborative Participant Experiences
"I encourage everyone to take the next right step and begin a Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative in your organization… You will not regret going on this journey."
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