One major problem that U.S hospitals are currently facing is the malnutrition of their patients. Although this is thought to be more common in second or third world countries, the problem with patient malnutrition is still a difficulty that many healthcare professionals in the U.S. disregard. It is approximated that upon hospital entry one-third of patients may develop symptoms of malnutrition, 16% of older patients were already malnourished, and a further 60% were at risk of severe malnutrition (Guenter). Typically, one of the main reasons malnutrition is disregarded is because hospitals already have a of set rules and regulations regarding the menu that should technically have the required caloric intake patients need and the measures to take to diagnose someone with malnutrition.
However, since the patients are ill with different illness’ and vary in ages, body sizes, weights, and heights, each individual will have a different amount of calories needed to have their bodies functioning correctly and at its maximum potential so that their body can recuperate faster.
When compared to each other, all of our bodies need different amounts of nutritional intake to function properly. However, a study conducted by the University of Minnesota showcased that the prevalence of malnutrition in hospitals was 20% – 50% ( Tignanelli ). What is unfortunate, however, is that that number could be much higher than what it is expected to be. This is because only 3.2% of hospitalized patients are actually screened and are diagnosed as being malnourished (Godamunne). Although it is a low percentage rate for the year 2010, this is better than the 1.
5% that was recorded in 2000 by the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. This may give off the impression that there has been an improvement on hospital awareness of patient malnutrition, but this is nothing compared to what the lack of focus and importance on the issue of hospitalized malnutrition is doing to the patients who need dire help.
One of the main issues that derive from hospital malnutrition is that it makes patients, who are already weak because of an illness or surgery, weaker. This does not just mean that they physically do not have the energies to do anything, but it also makes them more susceptible to other illnesses. Ill patients are already fragile especially if they are children or elderly. These two groups make up the majority of hospitalized malnutrition cases. Their bodies are continuously trying to fight diseases (chronic or not), fight off infections, or just trying to recuperate from a long, hard surgery. Therefore, why is it that hospitals can not seem to understand they those patients may need more?