Clinical Pediatric Dietitian II Sodexo at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Tallahassee, Florida
Demonstrate the effectiveness of the Pediatric Nutrition Screening Tool at detecting malnutrition in hospitalized children.
Approximately 20 million children less than 5-years-old are severely undernourished, contributing to 45% of all child deaths world-wide. Pediatric malnutrition in the United States is unknown because of underreporting. Reportedly, the prevalence of malnutrition related to illness in hospitalized children varies from 6-51%. Because malnutrition can have deleterious outcomes on a child’s development, it must be quickly detected for suitable nutrition interventions to be provided. There are multiple tools available to detect malnutrition in the inpatient setting. The Pediatric Nutrition Screening Tool (PNST) is quick, simple, and well-validated. The pediatric registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) wanted to determine if the PNST would be appropriate for hospitalized children at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH). The previously used tool, created for the adult population, was poorly detecting malnutrition for the pediatric population. In the Children’s Center at TMH, the PNST was used to screen for malnutrition (undernutrition) for inpatient admissions from March of 2018 through April of 2020. Following any positive screening, a RDN completed a nutrition assessment within 48 hours. Results demonstrated that, compared to baseline, implementation of the PNST significantly increased diagnosis of malnutrition. There were no hospitalized children diagnosed with malnutrition by the RDN in the two months before the PNST was implemented. Since implementation, 90% of positive screenings met the criteria for pediatric malnutrition, resulting in an average of 9.7 malnourished children found per month. Therefore, this tool proved to effectively detect pediatric malnutrition at the TMH Children’s Center. Furthermore, physician documentation of pediatric malnutrition increased from none to 52%.