Background The Redesigning Care initiative at Flinders Medical Centre aimed to improve access to timely, consistent, quality care. This led to the creation of an Acute Assessment Unit (AAU) where all patients are assessed by the Allied Health team on admission. This study aimed to: (i) determine the nutritional status of patients admitted to the AAU using the scored Patient Generated-Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA); and (ii) determine the association between nutritional status and length of stay (LOS).
Methods A prospective, observational study was conducted in 64 patients (mean age 79.9 +/- 11 years, 76% female). Nutritional status was assessed within 48 h of admission and LOS data were collected prospectively.
Results According to PG-SGA global rating, 53% (n = 34) of patients were malnourished. There was a weak association between PG-SGA score and LOS (r = 0.250, P = 0.046). The malnourished patients had a longer LOS by 1 day compared to well-nourished patients, and while this did not reach statistical significance (Z = -0.988, P = 0.323), it has implications for health care costs. LOS overall was short at a median of 4.5 days (range 1-24).
Conclusions A significant proportion of patients admitted to the AAU is malnourished. There was a trend for these patients to have a longer LOS, indicating a critical need for nutritional management; however LOS as a whole was short. While nutrition support in hospital is useful in reinforcing dietary education, the short LOS emphasized the importance of discharge education and follow-up.