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Impact of Malnutrition on Hospitalized Patients

Malnutrition, often used synonymously with undernutrition, is defined as a nutrition imbalance that can affect both overweight and underweight patients.1 Malnutrition in hospitalized patients is associated with longer hospital stays, higher costs of care and poorer outcomes once discharged.

Hospitalists are in a unique position to champion the screening, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition – in turn, improving outcomes and decreasing costs.


SHM's Recommendations for Diagnosing and Treating Malnutrition in the Hospital

SHM convened a panel of clinician experts in September 2016 to examine the state of inpatient malnutrition and identify opportunities for improvement. The meeting was initiated as part of an educational grant awarded by Abbott Nutrition.

Principles that guide strategy for addressing hospital malnutrition from the meeting consist of:

  1. Creating an institutional culture where all stakeholders value nutrition
  2. Redefining clinicians’ roles to include nutrition care
  3. Recognizing and diagnosing all malnourished patients and those at risk
  4. Rapidly implementing comprehensive nutrition interventions and continued monitoring
  5. Communicating the nutrition care plan
  6. Developing a comprehensive discharge nutrition care and education plan

View the full executive summary with more details about the principles, opportunities and recommendations.


1S Rinehart, J Folliard, & M Raimondi, “Building a Connection between Senior Hunger and Health Outcomes,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, (2016), vol. 116, no. 5, pp. 759-763.