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Impact of Nutrition on Length of Stay and Hospital Readmission

Malnutrition is common in the hospital setting and can adversely affect clinical outcomes and costs, but it is often overlooked (1). Addressing hospital malnutrition has the potential to improve quality of patient care and clinical outcomes and reduce costs (2). Hospital readmission rate is another important outcome that can be improved through nutrition intervention. Thirty-day readmission rates decreased from 16.5% to 7.1% in a community hospital that implemented a comprehensive malnutrition clinical pathway program focused on identification of at-risk patients, nutrition care decisions, inpatient care, and discharge planning (3).

Seniors are most susceptible to malnutrition during the two weeks following hospital discharge. Post-discharge meal programs address this problem as demonstrated by previous research which has reduced hospital readmissions and lowered adverse clinical outcomes. When discharging a patient, a complete discharge plan should include nutrition care plan documentation so that the receiving post-acute facility or primary care provider understands all aspects of the nutrition care plan, including any special diets, goals, intervention, additional resources, monitoring, and evaluation.

Preventing readmission should be top priority when a patient is discharged from the hospital. And this is where DeliverLean Care can help. With 6 different meal plans, including; general wellness, diabetic, low-sodium, pureed, kosher, and vegetarian, these nutritionally tailored meals provide all the necessary nutrients in a unique way as our meals are fresh, never frozen. Our meals support patient recovery after hospitalization and reduce readmission, helping patients to manage chronic conditions, avoid new hospitalizations, and maintain health and independence which ultimately improves their quality of life.

Lina Marquez, RDN, LDN

  1. Critical Role of Nutrition in Improving Quality of Care: An Interdisciplinary Call to Action to Address Adult Hospital Malnutrition. Tappenden, Kelly A. et al. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 113, Issue 9, 1219 – 1237
  2. Barker LA, Gout BS, Crowe TC. Hospital malnutrition: Prevalence, identification and impact on patients and the healthcare system. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011;8(2):514-527
  3. Brugler L, DiPrinzio MJ, Bernstein L. The five-year evolution of a malnutrition treatment program in a community hospital. Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 1999;25(4): 191-206.

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