Nutritional screening, assessment and implementation strategies for adults in an Australian acute tertiary hospital: a best practice implementation report

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The project aimed to improve the effectiveness of nutritional screening and assessment practices through clinical audits and the implementation of evidence-based practice recommendations.


In the absence of optimal nutrition, health may decline and potentially manifest as adverse health outcomes. In a hospitalized person, poor nutrition may adversely impact on the person's outcome. If the nutritional status can be ascertained, nutritional needs can be addressed and potential risks minimized.


The overall purpose of this project was to review and monitor staff compliance with nutritional screening and assessment best practice recommendations ensuring there is timely, relevant and structured nutritional therapeutic practices that support safe, compassionate and person-centered care in adults in a tertiary hospital in South Western Sydney, Australia, in the acute care setting.


A baseline retrospective chart audit was conducted and measured against 10 best practice criteria in relation to nutritional screening and assessment practices. This was followed by a facilitated multidisciplinary focus group to identify targeted strategies, implementation of targeted strategies, and a post strategy implementation chart audit.


The project utilized the Joanna Briggs Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System (JBI PACES) and Getting Research into Practice (GRIP) tool, including evidence from other available supporting literature, for promoting change in healthcare practice.


The baseline audit revealed deficits between current practice and best practice across the 10 criteria. Barriers for implementation of nutritional screening and assessment best practice criteria were identified by the focus group and an education strategy was implemented. There were improved outcomes across all best practice criteria in the follow-up audit.


The baseline audit revealed gaps between current practice and best practice. Through the implementation of a targeted education program and resource package, outcomes improved in the follow up audit. The findings indicated that engagement from multidisciplinary team members and consumers was effective in developing tailored education that improved knowledge of best practice. This was demonstrated by an increase in the percentage of compliance across the 10 criteria, although leaving room for more improvement. A policy has been developed for implementation and future audits are planned to measure whether improved practices have been sustained.

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