Background: In order to reduce protein-energy malnutrition in older people during hospitalisation an early interdisciplinary intervention is needed. We developed a protocol which includes screening for malnutrition, dysphagia and dehydration on admission, followed by immediate interventions.
Objective: To assess effectiveness of the protocol on nutritional status, hospital-acquired infections and pressure sores, and to evaluate the protocol s economical feasibility.
Design: Prospective, controlled study.
Setting: The inpatient geriatric service of a university hospital (UMC Nijmegen) and a geriatric ward of a non-academic teaching hospital (Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem).
Subjects: 298 older patients (>60 years).
Methods: One of the geriatric wards applied the protocol (N=140) while the other provided standard care (N=158). All non-terminally ill patients admitted for more than two days were included. Body mass was measured on admittance and discharge and hospital-acquired infections and pressure sores were scored and costs related to nutrition, infections and length of hospital stay were assessed.
Results: There was a 0.8 kg loss (SEM 0.3 kg) in average weight in the standard care group and a 0.9 kg gain (SEM 0.2 kg) in the intervention group (p<0.001). The number of hospital acquired infections was significantly lower in the intervention group (33/140 versus 58/158, p=0.01) but no significant difference in number of patients with pressure sores (23/140 versus 33/158) was found. Costs were not significantly different: 7516 versus 7908 Euro/patient for intervention versus controls, respectively.
Conclusion: An early interdisciplinary intervention approach can be effective in reducing protein-energy malnutrition and related hospital-acquired infections and appears to be economically feasible.