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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Malnutrition Jeopardizes Patient Health and Hospitalization Outcomes

By Michael McBurney

With increasing treatment costs and decreasing insurance reimbursements, who doesn’t want to pursue strategies to reduce hospitalization costs?  A new health economics and outcomes report suggests that in-hospital use of oral nutrition supplementation can save $4,734 daily in medical expenses. That is the estimated reduction in patient hospitalization costs from providing oral nutritional supplements hospitalized adult patients. Nutrition supplementation reduced the length of hospital stay by 21%.

The results of this health economics and outcomes study should not be surprising. One out of every 3 patients entering American hospitals is malnourished. Similar percentages have been reported for Europe, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Improving the nutritional status of in-hospital patients may improve patient outcomes and control health care costs. Between 2000 and 2010, out-of-pocket spending for personal health care almost doubled ($1.2 trillion to $2.2 trillion) but personal annual out-of-pocket spending increased more slowly (4%) than Medicare (9%), Medicaid (7%), and private insurance (6%) (

No one wants to get sick. People want to be healthy. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2013 Food & Health Survey, 9 out of 10 Americans describe their health as good or better. Yet the CDC reports that significant proportions of Americans are deficient in vitamin B6, iron, vitamin D, vitamin C and vitamin B12. These nutrient gaps increase risk of non-communicable diseases and likelihood of hospitalization.

Quraishi and colleagues reported that vitamin D –deficient patients are twice as likely to develop a hospital-acquired infection (vs those with highest vitamin D status).  In the US, and globally, many people have sub-optimal vitamin D levels.

This new health outcomes research calculates an economic cost of malnutrition in hospitals.  It provides incentive for hospitals and insurers to address nutritional inadequacies while people are being hospitalized.


National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2012: With Special Feature on Emergency Care. Hyattsville, MD. 2013.

Quraishi SA, Litonjua AA, Moromizato T, Gibbons FK, Camargo Jr CA, Giovannucci E, Christopher KB. Association between prehospital vitamin D status and hospital-acquired bloodstream infections. 2013 Am J Clin Nutr doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.058909