Every patient should be screened for malnutrition when they are admitted to hospital and re-screened weekly, in a bid to boost patient safety, recommends new guidance issued today.
The guidance, developed by a European alliance of professional organisations, including the RCN and the National Patient Safety Agency, contains a 10 point plan for better food and nutritional care in hospitals.
The move follows a resolution from the Council of Europe in 2002, which listed over 100 separate recommendations. All patients must also be given a nutritional care plan and protected mealtimes, says the new guidance.
Other recommendations include the need for hospitals to include food services and nutritional care in their clinical governance arrangements, and to involve patients in the planning and monitoring of food services.
Staff should also be appropriately trained in nutritional care and management, it says.
'All patients have a right to expect that their nutrition and hydration needs will be met when they are in hospital,' said Rick Wilson, who chairs the Council of Europe Alliance.
Now that healthcare professionals and relevant government bodies had agreed on how best to achieve this, vulnerable patients would be protected, he said.