Malnutrition in hospitalized patients is a major cause for hospital re-admission, pressure ulcers and increased hospital costs. Methods to improve the administration and documentation of nutritional supplements for hospitalized patients are needed to improve patient care, outcomes and resource utilization. Staff at a medium-sized academic health science center hospital in the southeastern United States noted that nutritional supplements ordered for patients at high risk for malnutrition were not offered or administered to patients in a standardized manner and/or not documented clearly in the electronic health record as per prescription. This paper reports on a process improvement project that redesigned the ordering, administration and documentation process of oral nutritional supplements in the electronic health record. By adding nutritional products to the medication order sets and adding an electronic nutrition administration record (ENAR) tab, the multidisciplinary team sought to standardize nutritional supplement ordering, documentation and administration at prescribed intervals. This process improvement project used a triangulated approach to evaluating pre- and post-process change including: medical record reviews, patient interviews, and nutrition formula room log reports. Staff education and training was carried out prior to initiation of the system changes. This process change resulted in an average decrease in the return of unused nutritional formula from 76% returned at baseline to 54% post-process change. The process change resulted in 100% of nutritional supplement orders having documentation about nutritional medication administration and/or reason for non-administration. Documentation in the ENAR showed that 41% of ONS orders were given and 59% were not given. Significantly more patients reported being offered the ONS product (p=0.0001) after process redesign and more patients (5% before ENAR and 86% after ENAR reported being offered the correct type, amount and frequency of nutritional products (p=0.0001). ENAR represented an effective strategy to improve administration and documentation of nutritional supplements for hospitalized patients.
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