Improving Nutrition Outcomes

03 August 2023

The Wesley Hospital Dietetics and Nutrition teams have successfully implemented a screening program to reduce the risk of malnutrition in hospital patients.

According to a report from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare there are nearly 5,500 episodes of malnutrition in Australian hospitals each year.

Head of Dietetics Dione Jacka said between 15-20 per cent of patients who present to Australian hospitals are deemed at risk of malnutrition.

"Patients can be malnourished on admission to hospital due to their illness or they can develop malnutrition due to being unwell," Dione said.

“This is an issues as malnourished patients have poorer health outcomes, leading to a longer length of stay in hospital, higher rates of infection, muscle loss, slow wound healing and most seriously an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

“To reduce the risk of malnutrition in our hospital we have been able to successfully implement a program which ensures all patients are screened for malnutrition within the first 24 hours of their admission to hospital."

Dione explains all patients are screened to assess their malnutrition status or if they are at risk of developing malnutrition.

"Patients who are identified at risk of malnutrition or who present already malnourished are referred to a dietitian who is able to implement a nutrition plan for the patient with weekly follow ups," Dione said.

“Using new technology, the patient’s nutrition information is uploaded into bedside mobile devices which are accessible to the clinical teams to see.

“The hospital has also recently implemented room service which allows patients to eat what they want, when they want, further reducing their risk of developing malnutrition.”

Dione said through education and training staff are making referrals to her team faster and more accurately.

"While the program has been incredibly successful we have also raised awareness of malnutrition among the clinical staff who are now more aware of the signs of malnutrition and the importance of screening,” Dione said.

“The program has been a huge success and is something all clinical teams should be proud of.”

Dione said anyone can develop malnutrition, and things to look out for include clothes fitting looser, poor appetite, unable to eat as much as usual, fatigue.

“If your loved one is in hospital and you are concerned they may be becoming malnourished speak with the nurse manager or team leader on the floor for a referral to a dietitian,” Dione said.

“Our dietitians also see people from the community in our outpatient clinic and no referral is required.”

Did you know, The Wesley Hospital also offers a Dietitian Outpatient Service?

The service is comprised of Accredited Practicing Dietitians and is located on the hospital campus within our Day Rehabilitation Unit. We offer individualised nutrition care plans to support you reach your wellness goals.

For all queries please contact us on:
T: 07 3232 6190

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