Shortfalls in malnutrition coding: a mandate for action

Ekta Agarwal, Maree Ferguson, Merrilyn Banks, Judy Bauer, Sandra Capra, Elisabeth Isenring

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


The International Classification of Diseases, Version 10, Australian modification (ICD-10- AM) is commonly used to classify diseases in hospital patients. ICD-10-AM defines malnutrition as “BMI < 18.5 kg/m2 or unintentional weight loss of ≥ 5% with evidence of suboptimal intake resulting in subcutaneous fat loss and/or muscle wasting”. The Australasian Nutrition Care Day Survey (ANCDS) is the most comprehensive survey to evaluate malnutrition prevalence in acute care patients from Australian and New Zealand hospitals1. This study determined if malnourished participants were assigned malnutritionrelated codes as per ICD-10-AM. The ANCDS recruited acute care patients from 56 hospitals. Hospital-based dietitians evaluated participants’ nutritional status using BMI and Subjective Global Assessment (SGA). In keeping with the ICD-10-AM definition, malnutrition was defined as BMI <18.5kg/m2, SGA-B (moderately malnourished) or SGA-C (severely malnourished). After three months, in this prospective cohort study, hospitals’ health information/medical records department provided coding results for malnourished participants. Although malnutrition was prevalent in 32% (n= 993) of the cohort (N= 3122), a significantly small number were coded for malnutrition (n= 162, 16%, p<0.001). In 21 hospitals, none of the malnourished participants were coded. This is the largest study to provide a snapshot of malnutrition-coding in Australian and New Zealand hospitals. Findings highlight gaps in malnutrition documentation and/or subsequent coding, which could potentially result in significant loss of casemix-related revenue for hospitals. Dietitians must lead the way in developing structured processes for malnutrition identification, documentation and coding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number136
Pages (from-to)4-4
Number of pages1
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventDietitians Association of Australia (DAA) 30th national conference - Canberra, Australia
Duration: 23 May 201325 May 2015
Conference number: 30th


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