Ecuador: Hospital malnutrition is an important health problem in public hospitals

Posted on September 12, 2014 • Filed under: Ecuador, Latin America Health /Sylvia Gallegos Espinosa, Marcelo Nicolalde Cifuentes, Sergio Santana Porbén, for the Ecuadorian Group for the Study of Hospital Malnutrition*


Hospital malnutrition is a global health problem affecting 30-50% of hospitalized patients. There
are no estimates of the size of this problem in Ecuadorian hospitals. Hospital malnutrition might influence the quality of medical assistance provided to hospitalized populations.Objectives: To estimate the current frequency of malnutrition among patients admitted to Ecuadorian public hospitals. Materials and methods : The Ecuadorian Hospital Malnutrition Study was conducted between November 2011 and June 2012 with 5,355 patients (Women: 37.5%; Ages ≥ 60 years: 35.1%; Length of stay ≤ 15 days: 91.2%) admitted to 36 public hospitals located in the prominent cities of 22 out of the 24 provinces of the country. Malnu- trition frequency was estimated by means of the Subjec- tive Global Assessment survey. Results : Malnutrition affected 37.1% of the surveyed patients. Malnutrition was dependent upon patient’s age and education level; as well as the presence of cancer,
sepsis, and chronic organic failure. Hospital areas showed different frequencies of hospital malnutrition. Health condition leading to hospital admission influenced negatively upon nutritional status. Malnutrition frequency increased as length of stay prolonged.

Malnutrition currently affects an important proportion of patients hospitalized in public health
institutions of Ecuador. Policies and actions are urgently required in order to successfully deal with this health problem and thus to ameliorate its negative impact upon quality of medical care…


This article has presented the results of the Ecuadorian Study of Hospital Malnutrition: the first concerted effort aimed to expose the magnitude and ramifications of this health problem in public health institutions ofthe country. As such, the Ecuador ELAN Study distincts itself from others conducted in the Latin American region for encompassing the public medical care.centers of all (but one of) the provinces of the country;and for being the culmination of a Mastery in Nutrition….

Hospital malnutrition is an important health problem in public hospitals of the Republic of Ecuador. Further research could be oriented to the causes of this prevailing epidemiological phenomenon. In this regard, it would be interesting to explore the validity of a model previously described that sees hospital malnutrition as the result of failures in the availability of resources, failures in recognizing opportunities for nutritional intervention and/or absence of knowledge and skills in issues of clinical and hospital nutrition, nutritional support, artificial nutrition and
metabolism. Identification and removal of barriers that today still surround the implementation of
coherent, cost-effective nutritional support schemes in the hospitalized patient would bring about containment of the costs of medical care, and a quality care better perceived by the patient and his/her relatives. Read Article pdf

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