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Treating Malnutrition May Save Hospitals Thousands of Dollars

One in three people admitted to hospitals are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. A recent study suggests that treating malnutrition in hospitals may help save millions of dollars by shortening the length of hospital stays and reducing readmission rates.

Participants in the study included 7,199 people who were admitted to Chicago-area hospitals. Of those patients, 1,269 were enrolled in a quality improvement program designed to tackle malnutrition, 4,611 were the pre-program baseline, and 1,319 were validation cohorts. The quality improvement program included screening for malnutrition on admission, starting at-risk patients on oral nutritional supplements as soon as possible, and educating patients about supplement adherence.

The researchers found that 30-day readmission rates were reduced by 27% and that the patients had an average two-day shorter hospital stay when they were enrolled in the quality improvement program. They also found that this resulted in approximately $3,800 in savings per patient for the admitting hospital. This would result in a savings of approximately $5 million for the hospitals.

Researchers from Abbott Nutrition led the study. It was published in the July 2017 issue of American Health & Drug Benefits.

Oral nutritional supplements are multi-nutrient liquid, semi-solid or powder products that provide macronutrients and micronutrients aimed at increasing nutritional intake. Studies have shown that when used in the treatment of disease-related malnutrition, oral nutritional supplements may help educe infections, improve well-being and activities of daily living and reduce the number of pressure ulcers and poorly healing wounds.

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