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Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):461-8.

Incidence of nutritional risk and causes of inadequate nutritional care in hospitals.

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Nutrition Unit, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.



Many patients in hospitals are undernourished and nutritional care is inadequate in most hospitals. The aim of this investigation was to gain insight into how this situation could be improved.


Seven hundred and fifty randomly selected patients were screened at admission in three hospitals and surveyed during their entire hospitalization. Each time a patient was not treated according to a clearly defined nutritional standard, the nurse responsible for the patient was interviewed about possible reasons according to preformed questionnaires.


The investigators found that 22% of the patients were nutritionally at-risk, and that only 25% of these patients received an adequate amount of energy and protein. The departments had only screened for nutritional problems in 60% of the cases. Only 47% of the patients, who the departments judged to be at-risk patients, had a nutrition plan worked out, and only about 30% of the at-risk patients were monitored by the departments by recording of dietary intake and/or body weight. The main causes for inadequate nutritional care were lack of instructions to deal with these problems, and lack of basic knowledge with respect to dietary requirements and practical aspects of the hospital's food provision. Patient-related aspects and the system of food provision also contributed, but only to a small degree.


These findings form the basis of the strategy to improve nutritional care in these hospitals.

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