Nutrition protocols improve wound outcomes

Diet is the solution

Pressure ulcers are costly and preventable, as is unintentional weight loss in elderly patients. Some experts say a key component to preventing these problems is to focus on patients’ nutrition and diet. (See related story on wound care, p. 32.)

The Chicago-based American Dietetic Association (ADA) has medical nutrition therapy protocols for the prevention of unintentional weight loss and treating pressure ulcers, developed by dietitians and published by the ADA and Mobile, AL-based Morrison Health Care.

"Every year, about 60,000 people die from complications related to pressure ulcers," says Jody Vogelzang, MS, RD, LD, FADA, president of JLV and Associates in Southlake, TX. Vogelzang chairs the dietetic practice group of the American Dietetic Association.

"Unintentional weight loss is an indicator of a lot of co-morbidities," Vogelzang says. "Malnour ished older Americans can attract more infections and diseases, and surgery is riskier for them." Patients with either a pressure ulcer or unintentional weight loss can experience high medical costs and poor outcomes in disease treatment or surgery recovery.

Packet includes charts, Braden Scale

For each of the protocols, four interventions are spaced two to four weeks apart, Vogelzang says. The protocols also include flowcharts and a second page that has spaces for the clinician to check specific assessment items for each intervention date. The Braden Scale for predicting pressure sore risk also is included in the protocol packet.

The protocols were published by the American Dietetic Association in a manual, Medical Nutrition Therapy Across the Continuum of Care. The manual comes with a computer disk so health care providers can alter the protocols to better fit their own organizations. The manual and disk cost $90 for nonmembers or $75 for members. Shipping costs 10% of total. For more information about the pressure ulcer and unintentional weight loss nutrition protocols, contact the American Dietetic Association at (800) 877-1600, ext. 5000.