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Elderly

Elderly Starving to Death in Hospitals

Monday, February 02, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: elderly, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) The charity Age Concern has sounded a warning that elderly people in British health-care facilities are not getting the special attention needed to make sure that they get enough food.

"Our evidence shows unacceptable inconsistencies across the country," said Patrick South, head of public affairs for the charity. "It's shocking that many older people still find themselves trapped within a 'postcode lottery of commitment' to improve nutritional standards on hospital wards. For older people, missed meals in the hospital can be as big a risk to safety as missing medication."

The Age Concern investigation found that 43 percent of the National Health Service (NHS) trusts studied failed to maintain "protected mealtimes," in which all non-critical care is halted to make sure that everyone gets a chance to eat. Investigators found facilities that conducted routine examinations or took patients to the bathroom during meals, causing those patients to go hungry.

The investigation also found that 33 percent of the trusts studied had not yet implemented a "red tray system," with meal trays color-coded so that staff can easily see which patients need extra assistance during mealtime.

More than 29,000 reports of poor patient nutrition incidents were reported to the British National Patients Safety Agency in 2007, including improper care of patients who had trouble swallowing or were too weak to eat properly, poorly fitted feeding tubes, and deaths due to malnutrition.

"Tackling malnutrition should be a top priority for all NHS trusts," South said.

Alison McCree, national secretary of the Health Estates & Facilities Management Association, said that she was "very disappointed" that the nutritional issues had yet to be addressed in a systemic fashion, and called upon the government to take action.

"Although it is primarily a nursing responsibility, the situation can only be improved with a multidisciplinary approach," she advised. "Education is also important - the message about malnutrition needs to get out there."

Sources for this story include: news.bbc.co.uk; www.hdmagazine.co.uk.

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