Background The early diagnosis of malnutrition brings clinical and economic benefits in hospitalised patients, especially in the elderly. However, the prevalence of malnutrition remains high.
Purpose To analyse the use of electronic prescription of oral supplements for nutritional support in a third level hospital.
Material and methods A retrospective observational study was conducted over a 4 month data collection period (February to May 2016). We collected data from patients who were prescribed oral supplements. We obtained information about the types of supplements, age of patients, starting date (with respect to hospital admission) and total number of days those supplements were administrated. We calculated the risk of malnutrition using a nutrition control table (CONUT) in patients who had available nutritional parameters at the time of prescription (serum albumin, total cholesterol and total number of lymphocytes).
Results We collected 338 registers, representing 0.8% of the total number of hospitalised patients. 84.5 was the average number of patients/month who were prescribed oral supplements. Services with the most numbers of prescriptions were general surgery and digestive (24.63%), followed by oncological (21.36%) and respiratory (11.57%) services. 51.49% of patients received protein and calorie rich shakes (1.5 kcal/mL). Most patients (34.72%) were in the range 76–85 years of age. 54.9% of patients received supplements in the first 5 days after hospital admission. The average number of days of prescribed supplements was 8.9. After collecting CONUT data from 52.7% of the registered patients, we concluded that 32.2% of patients were at a low risk of malnutrition, 44.1% had a moderated risk and 23.7% were in the high risk range.
Conclusion Prescription of supplements in our hospital was justified when used. We believe that the low percentage of patients studied related to the total was not representative and we conclude that a large number of patients could benefit from this type of nutrition. Therefore, patients are not being selected correctly. We recommend implementation of screening methods that will allow early detection of malnutrition. This will drive complete analysis tests, comprising nutritional parameters. We plan to implement a nutritional screening method that will allow us to evaluate the risk of malnutrition in the rest of our patients.
No conflict of interest
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