Report questions nutritional care in Tallaght Hospital

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published three reports on nutrition and hydration care in public acute hospitals.

The reports relate to inspections in Tallaght Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and University Hospital Limerick 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.

An unannounced inspection in Tallaght Hospital was carried out on the 18 August 2016.

Inspectors found that patients were routinely screened for the risk of malnutrition on admission on some of the wards in the hospital.

However, inspectors found that patients on these wards were not always screened for their risk of malnutrition on admission, nor were they re-screened weekly.

While some patients who spoke with inspectors were positive about the meals offered, others offered negative views on the quality of meals.

In addition, a small number of patients reported that they had not always received what they had ordered.

As per guidelines, hospital managers must ensure that effective communication systems are in place so that patients receive the correct meals, this is particularly important for patients that require texture modified diets or special therapeutic diets.

Inspectors found that the hospital had established a Nutrition Steering Committee which played a key role in raising the importance of the provision of good nutrition and hydration care.

A number of quality improvement initiatives relating to nutrition and hydration had been implemented in the hospital.

Several audits on screening patients for their risk of malnutrition and the patients’ experience of mealtimes had been conducted.

However, it was noted that the hospital had not audited the nutrient content and portion sizes of hospital meals as recommended in the national guidelines.