Nutrition and hydration publication statement 07 March 2017

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published three reports on nutrition and hydration care in public acute hospitals. HIQA monitors against the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare to review nutrition and hydration care of patients in Irish hospitals.

HIQA inspections monitor hospitals to ensure that they have effective systems in place to identify and manage patients who are at risk of malnutrition and dehydration. The reports published today relate to inspections in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dublin, St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, Dublin, and Wexford General Hospital.

An unannounced inspection of nutrition and hydration was carried out in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital on 29 November 2016. Inspectors found the hospital had a Nutrition Steering Committee in place that had implemented a number of quality improvement initiatives around good nutrition and hydration care. Inspectors observed that patients who required assistance with their meals were offered it in a prompt manner, and there were systems in place to ensure patients received the correct meals.

Patients were being routinely screened for their risk of malnutrition on admission to the hospital, in line with best practice. The hospital must continue to develop an audit programme for nutrition and hydration care, including auditing compliance with screening all patients for the risk of malnutrition and auditing the nutrient content and portion sizes of hospital meals.

An unannounced inspection in St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network on 8 December 2016 found that a number of quality improvement initiatives relating to nutrition and hydration had been implemented in the hospital. The hospital had a system to identify patients who required assistance with their meals and inspectors observed that patients were offered assistance in a prompt manner. All patients who spoke with inspectors were satisfied and complimentary about the quality of food they received and choice of meals offered.

Inspectors found that screening patients for the risk of malnutrition was not always completed within 24 hours of admission, as recommended in national guidelines. The hospital had identified this issue in an internal audit in November 2016 and was progressing with plans to improve compliance.

Nutrition and hydration care in Wexford General Hospital was inspected by HIQA on 23 November 2017. Inspectors found that while the hospital was routinely screening patients for their risk of malnutrition.

Patients who spoke with inspectors spoke positively about how the food tasted and those on standard diets were offered a choice of meals. However, meal choice was limited for patients on texture-modified diets. The hospital must ensure that quality improvement efforts, such as the evaluation of patients’ experience of nutrition and hydration care and policies to guide staff and standardise nutrition and hydration care, continue to be developed and implemented.