(RxWiki News) A new study finds more than one in three hospitals in Australia house malnourished patients, and as many as 70 percent of patients in nursing homes are malnourished.
Study leader Dr. Karen Charlton said malnutrition often goes undiagnosed since it is not considered a clinical priority in hospitals and nursing homes.
The study found 90 percent of some 275 patients at one hospital in Melbourne were either malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished. Measurements were based on weight, appetite and other factors.
The study followed older patients admitted to rehabilitation hospitals over a five-year period. Malnourished patients stayed an average of 18.5 days in the hospital compared to 12.4 days for well-nourished patients.
Around 15 percent of malnourished patients were classified as such by hospital and nursing home staffs, on average.
Dr. Charlton said the study follows a trend found in other countries, such as Finland, where 15 percent of elderly patients in long-term hospital care were considered malnourished, while close to 60 percent were actually malnourished.
Malnourished patients are more likely to suffer pressure ulcers (bed sores) and infections and recover more slowly than nourished patients.
According to Abbott Nutrition Health Institute, the number of malnourished patients in American hospitals ranges from 15 percent to 54 percent.
The study appears in the Dietitians Association of Australia’s journal, Nutrition & Dietetics.