Malnutrition in Hospitalized Adult Patients

Researchers estimate that 20 to 50 percent of hospitalized adult patients are malnourished.

Treatment costs associated with malnutrition are estimated to be greater than $11 billion a year. These costs are related, not only to the treatment of malnutrition and its underlying cause, but also its effects. Malnutrition can cause muscle wasting, loss of functional ability and hospital acquired conditions, like falls, pressure injuries and infections. All of these can lead to increased morbidity and mortality, longer lengths of stay, and higher readmission rates.

NACNS, with generous support from Abbott Nutrition Health Institute, convened a task force to discover how the clinical nurse specialist can affect this national trend. The task force found that CNSs are well positioned to intervene to significantly reduce malnutrition in the hospitalized adult patient through: assessment, prevention, and treatment of malnutrition; education and collaboration with nursing and other disciplines; and implementation of system-level interventions to ensure that at risk adult patients are screened, identified and treated for suboptimal nutritional states.

Clinical nurse specialists should practice to the full extent of their education and training and utilize the full scope of their prescriptive authority to prescribe nutritional supplements and other key pharmaceuticals and therapies to malnourished and at-risk patients.

The NACNS Malnutrition Task Force also developed a conceptual model to unify the framework to describe and assert recommendations for the CNS role in promoting optimal nutritional status in the hospitalized adult.

Download it here.