Hospital malnutrition screening at admission: malnutrition increases mortality and length of stay

Elisabet Leiva Badosa, Maria Badia Tahull, Núria Virgili Casas, Gema Elguezabal Sangrador, Concepción Faz Méndez, Ignacio Herrero Meseguer, Àngels Izquierdo González, Rafael López Urdiales, Francisco Javier Oca Burguete, María Tubau Molas, Concepció Vilarasau Farré, Josep Manel Llop Talaveron


Introduction: Malnutrition is common in patients admitted to hospital and is associated with morbidity and mortality. We conducted a study to assess the prevalence of nutritional risk, risk factors associated and its consequences in a third-level hospital.

Methods: This is a prospective nutritional screening study of hospitalized patients evaluated within the first 72 hours of admission, by Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) and Short Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (SNAQ) screening tests. The variables recorded included demographic, anthropometric, hospitalization and clinical data.

Results: Out of 409 patients, 12.7% and 15.3% were nutritionally at risk according to MUST and SNAQ, respectively, with the highest prevalence in critical care units (33.3%; 25.5%), amongst oncologic patients (17.5%; 28.4%) and those with higher Charlson Comorbidity Indices (CCI). Length of stay (LOS) was longer in patients at severe malnutrition risk (15.4 vs 9.9 days for MUST; 13.3 vs 9.9 days for SNAQ). Mortality was higher in those with high malnutrition risk (66.7% vs 10.9% for MUST; 50.0% vs 14.2% for SNAQ). Multivariate analysis showed that malnutrition was associated with CCI and mortality. Risk factors associated with LOS were admission as emergencies for both MUST and SNAQ tests.

 Conclusions: The prevalence of malnutrition is high in patients on admission to a third-level hospital, with a higher prevalence in critical care units, amongst oncologic patients and those with a higher CCI. Malnutrition is associated with longer LOS and higher mortality. The systematic clinical use of screening tools enables to detect patients at risk of malnutrition and take appropriate action.

Palabras clave

malnutrition; nutritional assessment; nutrition surveys

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