Learning More About Nutritional Risk Screening and Assessment
Expert opinions on the importance of nutritional risk screening and assessment
During the annual congress of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), several experts were interviewed to gather their insights into the subject of nutritional risk screening and assessment. They highlight that nutritional screening is often not conducted appropriately, and that patient screening needs to be improved for the whole period a patient stays in the hospital: from the moment they walk in, up to the time they are discharged. These experts believe that improving patient screening will have a positive impact not only on patients and their nutrition status, but also a direct effect on hospitals and their resources. Some of the experts that provided thoughts on the subject are:
- Dr. Karin Papapietro: physician andsurgeon at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Chile
- Dr. Mario Ignacio Perman: adult intensive therapy doctor at the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Prof. Isabel Correia: chief of the Nutrition Therapy Team at the Alfa Institute of Gastroenterology and Surgery at the University Hospital, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
The ESPEN Congress is a yearly convention that covers several topics in the fields of parenteral and enteral nutrition and recently gathered more than 3,000 participants from 82 different countries worldwide. In September 2015, Lisbon held the annual ESPEN Congress, in which a series of interviews were conducted with well-known experts from Latin America. Below you will find videos and more insights into these experts’ thoughts and ideas.
How can adequate nutritional risk screening and assessment help to fight malnutrition?
Dr. Karin Papapietro:
The main cause of clinical malnutrition is probably related to what we are not doing as health care professionals. In first place, we have to try to identify the patient that is at risk of malnutrition during his or her hospital stay. Secondly, we have to try and do an early detection of those patients that are already malnourished. The main challenge in the fight against malnutrition is the screening of the nutritional risk of a patient. Despite the efforts, latest studies in Latin America show that appropriate screening is still not being conducted.
Dr. Mario Ignacio Perman:
Nutritional screening needs to use very simple tools so that any health personnel are able to do it in order to identify risk factors. Based on this, they can produce a more precise diagnostic and nutritional plan.
Prof. Dr. Isabel Correia:
Nutrition must be personalized according to each person. I should not treat Maria the same way as I treat Jose. Patients are different and a nutritional assessment should take this into consideration: “this person has this problem, and this problem is linked to nutrition. Maybe their malnutrition is moderate, maybe severe…” No doctor says “he is anemic, let’s give him blood,” but rather, “he seems to be anemic, let’s perform a test.” And that should be the same for malnutrition. After conducting the assessment, I can determine the degree of malnutrition and how to best move forward. There are a lot of tools for nutritional assessment. But, without a doubt, I consider that the most adequate, the most appropriate, is that based on clinical history and simplified clinical examination. That means I don’t necessarily need a tool – which costs money- or a machine. I mainly should talk to the patient.