A newly released study further confirms the devastating human and financial toll of malnutrition across the United States and, more specifically, quantifies its significant and negative impact on hospital readmission rates.
The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) study found that 30-day hospital readmission rates for all causes (other than maternal or neonatal) to be more than 50 percent higher for patients with malnutrition. Rates of readmission were found to be highest among adults aged 18-64 years, those paid by Medicaid and those residing in metropolitan areas. Further, the average costs per readmission for patients with malnutrition were found to be 26-34 percent higher ($16,900 to $17,900) for patients with malnutrition compared to those without malnutrition ($13,400).
“This is a problem with real consequences to its victims and to our nation,” said Bob Blancato, Defeat Malnutrition Today’s National Coordinator. “While we previously knew that one in three hospital patients is malnourished upon admission, the HCUP study confirms that malnutrition is bringing many of these patients back to the hospital for additional inpatient care and driving up healthcare costs in the process.”
Many of the increased readmissions and costs could be avoided, Blancato added, because malnutrition is preventable and treatable. “We need to do a better job at the clinical and community level in screening for, diagnosing, and treating malnutrition. We need malnutrition-related quality measures that would ensure malnutrition screenings and interventions are occurring and awareness of the problem is raised in general.”