Malnutrition and its impact on cost of hospitalization, length of stay, readmission and 3-year mortality

Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):345-50. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.001. Epub 2011 Nov 26.


Background & aims: The confounding effect of disease on the outcomes of malnutrition using diagnosis-related groups (DRG) has never been studied in a multidisciplinary setting. This study aims to determine the prevalence of malnutrition in a tertiary hospital in Singapore and its impact on hospitalization outcomes and costs, controlling for DRG.

Methods: This prospective cohort study included a matched case control study. Subjective Global Assessment was used to assess the nutritional status on admission of 818 adults. Hospitalization outcomes over 3 years were adjusted for gender, age, ethnicity, and matched for DRG.

Results: Malnourished patients (29%) had longer hospital stays (6.9±7.3 days vs. 4.6±5.6 days, p<0.001) and were more likely to be readmitted within 15 days (adjusted relative risk=1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.2, p=0.025). Within a DRG, the mean difference between actual cost of hospitalization and the average cost for malnourished patients was greater than well-nourished patients (p=0.014). Mortality was higher in malnourished patients at 1 year (34% vs. 4.1 %), 2 years (42.6% vs. 6.7%) and 3 years (48.5% vs. 9.9%); p<0.001 for all. Overall, malnutrition was a significant predictor of mortality (adjusted hazard ratio=4.4, 95% CI 3.3-6.0, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Malnutrition was evident in up to one third of the inpatients and led to poor hospitalization outcomes and survival as well as increased costs of care, even after matching for DRG. Strategies to prevent and treat malnutrition in the hospital and post-discharge are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / economics*
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / mortality
  • Malnutrition / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Patient Readmission / economics
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Young Adult