Improving the nutritional intake of hospital patients: how far have we come? A re-audit.
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BACKGROUND: Malnutrition affects up to 33.6% of hospitalised patients, with consequences that are detrimental for both patients and healthcare providers. In 2015, an audit demonstrated inadequate nutritional provision and consumption by hospitalised patients, comprising a major risk factor for malnutrition. This re-audit evaluates whether patients are meeting recommended energy and protein standards and estimated individual requirements, subsequent to food service improvements since 2015. METHODS: Patients (n = 111) were included from a South West hospital, and Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool scores (MUST) categorised patients as 'nutritionally well' (MUST 0) or 'nutritionally vulnerable' (MUST ≥ 1). Individual energy and protein requirements were estimated using weight-based equations. Nutritional intakes were assessed via 24-h dietary recall and compared against the British Dietetic Association's Nutrition and Hydration Digest standards, as well as estimated individual requirements. RESULTS: In total, the Digest standards for energy and protein were met by 35% and 63% of patients respectively, which is an increase of 19% and 36% since 2015. 'Nutritionally well' patients were more likely to meet nutrient standards for protein (62%) than estimated individual requirements (30%) (P ≤ 0.001). 'Nutritionally vulnerable' patients were more likely to meet estimated individual requirements for energy (60%) than the Digest standards (30%) (P = 0.047). CONCLUSIONS: The proportion of patients meeting the Digest standards has increased considerably following numerous food service changes. Nutritional training for housekeepers, energy/protein-dense snacks and drinks, and fortified dietary items may further increase nutritional intakes. Additionally, as a result of discrepancies between the Digest standards and individual estimated requirements, more research is required to identify the most appropriate auditing standards that reflect best practice.
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