Assessing and managing malnutrition in adults in hospital

Assessing and managing malnutrition in adults in hospital

Hardip Malhi Nutrition nurse specialist, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the effects of disease-related malnutrition, and the role of screening and assessment in identifying patients who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition

  • To familiarise yourself with nursing action plans and their role in optimising patients’ nutritional status

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

The term malnutrition refers to both undernutrition and overnutrition. In healthcare, it most often refers to undernutrition, in particular disease-related malnutrition, which can be a result or a cause of an illness. The reasons for malnutrition are multifactorial, and its consequences may include an increased risk of pressure ulcers, reduced mobility and psychological effects such as depression. It is essential that nurses prioritise the nutritional care of all patients and identify those at risk of malnutrition using accurate and reliable nutrition screening tools. If there is a risk of malnutrition, further assessment and nutrition action planning can reduce the risk to the patient and improve their nutritional status. This article discusses the effects of disease-related malnutrition and outlines the role of screening tools and assessment in identifying patients who are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished. It also describes the nursing care that should be provided to patients with disease-related malnutrition, and emphasises the importance of using a multidisciplinary team approach involving speech and language therapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11180


Malhi H (2018) Assessing and managing malnutrition in adults in hospital. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11180



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 04 October 2018

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