ThedaCare team improves malnutrition screening

A recent study on malnutrition screening conducted by ThedaCare dietitians is receiving international attention. The study, conducted by members of the dietitian services team at ThedaCare medical centers in the Fox Valley, was published in the January issue of the “Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.”

“For people in our community, it helps us identify if they have malnutrition and intervene,” said ThedaCare’s Lori Hartz, manager of dietitian services and one of the authors of the study. “If we can improve nutritional status, we can possibly change the course of their disease. It seems pretty basic, but when you’re sick, you need those calories and nutrition to heal.”

Hospital patients are required to be screened for their risk of malnutrition within 24 hours of being admitted using a standard assessment. Hartz and Cheryl Shockey, ThedaCare’s lead for dietitian services, worked with researchers at universities in Madison and Duluth to develop their own screen — one they say is more efficient and more effective at detecting malnutrition in patients.

“Because malnutrition is highly correlated with mortality, it is important to treat early,” Hartz said. She added that the results from this research will be used in future learning opportunities regarding nutrition.