Why Med-Surg Nurses Should Prioritize Nutrition

By: Beth D. Quatrara DNP, RN, CMSRN, ACNS-BC.

Did you know? At least 1 out of 3 adult patients enters the hospital malnourished.

Beth Quatrara

I am privileged to be the AMSN Clinical Representative to the Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition, and I'd like your help in reducing malnutrition in hospitalized patients.

As nurses we don’t often place nutrition on the top of our basic interventions list. We certainly recognize its value but it is not often considered a high patient care priority.

We typically look to our registered dietitian colleagues to solve issues of malnutrition. However, nurses have a pivotal role in detecting and treating malnutrition in order to improve patient outcomes.

Malnutrition impedes quality nursing care. Malnutrition adversely impacts Nurse Sensitive Indicators.

Malnourished patients are:

  • 2 times more likely to develop a pressure ulcer
  • 3 times more likely to develop a surgical site infection
  • 45% more likely to fall

The basic intervention of good nutrition can help to improve Nurse Sensitive Indicators and the overall well-being of our patients.

The Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition, an interdisciplinary collaborative team, was formed to address malnutrition in hospitalized patients.

I encourage each of you to visit malnutrition.com to learn more and specifically how nurses can prioritize nutrition. There are several great tools and educational videos in the Get Involved section to help you care for malnourished patients and a shareable sheet on the Nurse's Role in Nutrition Care.

Appropriately addressing malnutrition takes a team. It cannot be left to one person or one discipline alone, and med-surg nurses have a key role.

Thank you for helping me spread the word. We can take a lead role in prioritizing nutrition to improve outcomes in our hospitalized patients.

Beth D. Quatrara DNP, RN, CMSRN, ACNS-BC
AMSN Clinical Representative
Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition

Beth is an Advanced Practice Nurse 3-Clinical Nurse Specialist and Director of PNSO Nursing Research Program at the University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Contact Beth at bad3e@virginia.edu.

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