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nutritionDay: Day of action against malnutrition at the hospital

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(Vienna, 28-10-2019) The global "nutritionDay" was founded by the Anaesthetists Michael Hiesmayr and Karin Schindler, both from MedUni Vienna/AKH Vienna 13 years ago. The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness for the underestimated problem of malnutrition in hospital patients, but also older people in general. MedUni Vienna / AKH Vienna have now taken two measures to achieve greater awareness: in the context of the global nutritionDay project, which is headed by Silvia Tarantino at MedUni Vienna, employees are encouraged to participate; in addition, MedUni Vienna has an elective course named "Nutrition and outcome: nutritionDay" in its curriculum since the winter semester 2019/2020. nutritionDay 2019 is held on the 7th of November.

The history of nutritionDay is long: as early as in 1977, malnutrition in surgical patients was determined in a Lancet study. Once again, in 2005, a British study showed that the costs generated by malnutrition for the English public amounted to approximately 11 billion annually - about double the amount generated due to adiposity.

Due to the frequently advanced age and general poor health, particularly hospitalised patients and residents of care facilities throughout the world are at a higher risk of being affected by malnutrition. Malnutrition due to illness has a significant impact on the duration of the hospitalisation as well as morbidity and mortality rates. Studies showed that approximately 30 percent of inpatients are or are at risk to be undernourished as they take in an insufficient amount of food due to a lack of appetite due to illness.

"It shows the enormous significance of nutritionDay", says Michael Hiesmayr of the University Clinic for anaesthesia, general intensive medicine and pain therapy. At this one day every year, physicians and health care personnel are specifically encouraged to enquire about the eating habits of their patients and to enter it into an anonymised database. Physicians, carers or nurses can also register their respective ward anonymously on the website - specifying their respective medical specialty - in order to conduct a comparative evaluation at a later date.

Data recorded on questionnaires about the nutrition status - cut-off date is the nutritionDay - is collected worldwide, thus establishing a so-called current status. The respective clinic and/or faculty or ward subsequently receives a comprehensive report on findings, which compares the own information with those of the global data recorded in the same medical specialty. "This 'performance comparison' allows the respective division to initiate improvements in the own processes for the control of the eating behaviour of affected patients. It has to be explained to patients why eating is important and how one can assist them", explains Hiesmayr. "The more one participates, the better it is to assess measures and render successes visible."

Hospitals from 65 countries throughout the world - from Columbia to Japan - have so far participated with more than 12,000 patients; in the process, more than 263,000 personal data were recorded. At MedUni Vienna and AKH Vienna, one is aware of the responsibility for this problem: campaigns are running to motivate carers on a personal level to participate and to register. Until now, 2,800 physicians and care personnel have registered.