Patients being failed by hospitals and carers when checking for signs of malnutrition

The largest survey to be carried out into malnutrition in hospitals and the community has discovered that two out of three hospital patients were not being checked for signs of undernourishment. The investigation of 5,000 adults in England, Scotland and Wales, which was commissioned by the Patients Association, also discovered that most community carers were not keeping track of nutrition issues among the old, even failing to weigh them.

The figures showed that 69 per cent of hospital inpatients could not recall being checked for malnutrition on admission, which could mean fewer than one in three patients being monitored.

These alarming findings come on the back of official figures released earlier this year, which revealed that malnutrition contributed to the deaths of 284 elderly hospital patients with a further 800 deaths in which dehydration played a part.

Health Service guidelines say that all patients arriving into hospital, all outpatients and elderly people going into care homes should be questioned about their diet and weight. However, findings from the Patients Association study reveals that very little has changed, despite it apparently being one of the NHS’ key priorities.

The survey also found that carers were failing to act, despite being perfectly placed to check on those they are caring for. More than 1,800 carers who took part in the study said they did have concerns about the weight of someone they looked after, but only 8 per cent had used the formal assessment methods to examine for malnutrition and just one in six carers had ever weighed a person they were looking after.

The Patients Association report, entitled ‘Patients’ Understanding of Nutrition’ says that the fact so few people are being checked when staff should be following the screening guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is ‘alarming’.

View the original Daily Mail article here.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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