Nutrition Decisions in the Hospitalized Patient

Patients who are hospitalized require appropriate nutritional support to heal wounds and recover from illness. Up to 40% of hospitalized patients have some degree of malnutrition (Coates et al., 1993). Clinical studies have shown that length of stay and hospital costs are higher in patients at risk for poor nutrition than patients who are not at risk (Chima et al., 1997). The Joint Commission (formerly Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, JCAHO) requires a nutritional screen to be completed on each patient within 24 hours of admission. Often, patients with chronic illness are nutritionally depleted before hospitalization, and trauma and surgery increase nutritional demands significantly. Patients may rapidly fall behind in caloric and nutrient intake, particularly older adults.

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