Putting hospital-based nutrition on the radar

By Khanh Chi, -

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Nutrition care pathway can be implemented in any health care setting. Nutrition care pathway can be implemented in any health care setting.
“Though the benefits of healthy eating are now becoming common knowledge, not many people perceive it a routine concern when it comes to adults, elderly and especially hospitalized patients. Low awareness of community towards nutrition-based care and lack of nutritional experts, clinicians in the hospitals can be considered two major reasons which leave malnutrition an overwhelming issue with wide-reaching consequences”, said Dr. Nguyen Quoc Anh, MD, Director of Bach Mai hospital.
Existing problems need to tackle
It goes without saying that when someone is unwell they need to eat the right food, with the right amount, at the right time in order to get better. However, most patients entering hospital would think of how much medication they are going to take, both curative and tonic drugs, instead of caring for their daily diet. Many even see food intake as an attempt to stuff their stomach, or worse, a duty they are forced to finish before taking medicines. Gradually, the lack of prioritization of nutrition care from patients and their families not only leads to further decline in patients’ nutrition status during their hospital stay, but also causes severe adverse effects on health outcomes such as surgical site infection, pressure ulcers, etc.
Furthermore, patients also need a lot of support from nutritional clinicians. Unfortunately, many of those who are at the front lines in observing patients, interacting with patients’ families and delivering patient care are not receiving enough training to include nutrition in their treatment scheme. “Specifically in Vietnam, 31 provincial hospitals still have no nutrition departments and that doctors have just built dietary for gravity patients who are in intensive care units, recovering after surgery or fed through a vein”, Dr. Nguyen Huu Toan, former head of Nutrition Department, Cho Ray Hospital, added.
As a result, it is not a surprise when 45 percent of patients falling down in the hospital are malnourished and this pervasive problem remains unrecognized and untreated in so many hospitalized patients.
The simple, clinical Nutrition Care Pathway
Though there are a lot more time and efforts needed to put malnutrition into an end, multiple studies have proved that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Recently, the new research titled “Evidence-Based Recommendations for Addressing Malnutrition in Health Care: An Updated Strategy from feedM.E. Global Study Group”, supported by Abbott, provided the simple and clinical Nutrition Care Pathway.
Accordingly, during the diagnosis right after the admission to hospital, patients will be asked three simple questions: 1) Are you sick or injured? 2) Have you lost your appetite? 3) Have you lost weight without trying? If a person answers ‘yes’ to any two of these, the patient is at risk for malnutrition. The result got from this simple diagnosis method will help nutrition experts; doctors easily define treatment scheme appropriate with patients’ nutrition status, boosting their recovery and reducing healthcare cost.
Moreover, Abbott has showed its strong commitment in fighting malnutrition globally by recommending oral nutrition supplement as an efficient treatment tool, after a retrospective analysis of nearly 44 million adult inpatients episodes during 11 years (2000 - 2010). What brought along by this nutrition supply method are countable benefits, including better personal nourishment, remarkable savings up to $52.63 per individual and $929.000 per hospital with 20.000 annual admissions.
Through these very first steps to decrease the prevalence of malnutrition as well as raise more public awareness around the world, Abbott aims to drive widespread adoption of the Nutrition Care Pathway to reach as many local hospital nutritionists as possible in near future and make malnutrition no longer a burden to the whole community.

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