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Patients go hungry in British hospitals

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 08 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:752

Malnutrition is common, unrecognised, and treatable in hospital patients

  1. C R Pennington, Consultant physiciana,
  2. Janet P McWhirter, Nutrition support coordinatora
  1. a Department of Digestive Diseases and Clinical Nutrition, Directorate of General Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY
  2. b St Andrew's Hospital, Norwich NR7 OSS

    Editor—Jacqui Wise's reference to the report by the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales highlights a serious problem.1 Although the report is anecdotal, the problems to which it alludes have previously been documented.2 Patients who do not receive an adequate diet will become malnourished. Furthermore, many patients are already malnourished on admission to hospital. Our study of 500 hospital admissions showed that 30% of patients had evidence of moderate to severe malnutrition, and 65% of all patients who remained in hospital for more than one week lost weight, the weight loss being proportionately greater in the malnourished group.3 Less than half of the malnourished patients had any nutritional information recorded in their case notes, and only a few were referred for nutritional management.

    The …

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