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Nutrition Treatment in Hospitalized COPD Patients Shows Improved Health Outcomes

The results of a recent study showed reduced hospital costs, lengths of stay and chances of returning to the hospital within 30-days for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who were receiving oral nutritional supplements.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School wanted to determine the link between poor nutrition and those most likely to have the disease, seniors. Poor nutrition constitutes the insufficient intake of adequate calories and protein for maintenance and growth. Study participants included those individuals aged 65 and older, on Medicare, who had been admitted to the hospital with a primary diagnoses of COPD.

Since Medicare will be raising its maximum penalty for hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30-days, the research team found it beneficial for both patients and physicians to include this in the study.

The results revealed a reduction in participant length of stay by 1.88 days (21.5 percent) and total hospital costs by $1,570 (12.5 percent) on average, compared to those who did not receive nutrition treatment. Additionally, those participants who received oral nutrition treatment had a 13.1 percent reduction in 30-day readmission.

"Our findings suggest that screening seniors in the hospital for malnutrition risk and providing cost-effective treatment for those who are malnourished or at risk, can have a positive health impact on outcomes," said Julia Thornton Snider, Ph.D., at Precision Health Economics and lead author for the study.

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