Nutrition and fluid management of patients in hospital are an essential part of the patient's overall health. Adequate nutritional and fluid intake is important to ensure that the patient recovers from surgeries and procedures, remains and maintains independence, and has a shorter stay in the hospital setting. Medical personnel monitor a patient's nutrition and fluid intake to ensure that the patient is not undernourished, malnourished, or dehydrated. A patient becomes undernourished when his or her intake is inadequate to meet his or her daily requirements for energy. This means that the patient is burning more energy than he or she is consuming through nutrition and fluid. Undernourishment results in weight loss, loss of body mass, and weakness. Malnourishment occurs when a patient does not have enough caloric intake to maintain bodily function. This results in weight and loss of function in body systems. Dehydration means that the patient is not consuming enough liquids on a daily basis. Dehydration results in delirium, urinary tract infections, constipation, dysphasia, falls, and the inability to breakdown medications.
To monitor a patient's nutritional status and adequate liquid intake, a clinician will utilize the malnutrition screening tool, the mini nutrition assessment, the mini nutrition assessment short form, or the malnutrition universal screening tool. The clinician will also perform a physical examination and assessment of the patient in order to determine nutritional and hydration status.