Preventing Malnutrition in Hospital Patients

07 October 2022
The Wesley Hospital Dietetics Team

The Wesley Hospital Dietetics Team have recently implemented new procedures to promote the early identification of malnutrition for all inpatients.

These innovative procedures involve malnutrition screening processes for patients on admission by a Nutrition Assistant to identify potential at risk patients and ensure they are immediately referred to a Dietitian.

Dietitian Hayley Butcher explained it was important for the patients to be flagged as potential risk for malnutrition on arrival as the dietetics team could take steps to ensure the patient stayed well nourished throughout their stay.

“An additional Dietitian has joined the team to ensure we have capacity to see all patients within specified timeframes as research demonstrates earlier intervention equates to better patient outcomes,” Ms Butcher said.

“From here we are also rolling out Malnutrition Awareness training sessions for our Clinical Nurse Managers, nursing staff and most importantly our Food Services team members.

“Food Services team members play a vital role in malnutrition awareness, they can see changes in a patient’s eating habits and report uneaten meals to clinical staff.”

Dietitian Jillanne Rau explained that understanding the impacts of malnutrition is everyone’s responsibility and with greater education, training and touch points along the patient journey the risk of malnutrition can be reduced.

“Anyone is at risk of malnutrition, typically we do see it more often in our elderly patients or those on certain wards such as oncology but it’s important to look out for the warning signs for all patients,” Ms Rau said.

“These warning signs can include, loss of appetite and interest in food, unintentional weight loss, difficulty feeding themselves or swallowing and signs of possible depression or dementia.

“Complications from malnutrition can include increased risk of infection, longer time for wounds to heal, longer hospital stays, less responsive to treatment and an overall poorer quality of life.”

To speak with a Dietitian while staying at The Wesley Hospital please ask your care provider and they will organise a referral for you.

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