Nutritional Treatment Improves Hospital Outcomes in Older COPD Patients

Researchers report that nutrition treatment for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) aged 65 or older helps reduce of lengths of stay, hospital costs, and probability of returning to the hospital within 30 days.

A study published in CHEST found nutrition treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients aged 65 or older resulted in reductions of lengths of stay (LOS), hospital costs, and probability of returning to the hospital within 30 days.

A leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the US, COPD sufferers are widely affected by nutritional deficiencies, leading to a further decline in respiratory function, body mass, and immune function, the investigators penned.

For their study, researchers from Precision Health Economics and Abbott Nutrition identified Medicare recipients with COPD. They then compared LOS, hospitalization cost, and 30-day readmission rates among COPD patients who received oral nutritional supplements (ONS) during their hospitalization and COPD patients who did not.

Of the 10,322 ONS hospitalizations and 368,097 non-ONS hospitalizations identified, the authors reported ONS therapy was associated with “a 1.88 day (21.5 percent) decrease in LOS, from 8.75 to 6.87 days (p<0.01); hospitalization cost reduction of $1,570 (12.5 percent), from $12,523 to $10,953 (p<0.01); and a 13.1 percent decrease in probability of 30-day readmission, from 0.335 to 0.291 (p<0.01).”

Researchers, who deemed nutritional treatment as an “inexpensive and effective” remedy for hospitalized COPD patients believes their discovery contributes to the creation of nutritional guidelines for this at-risk group, which as of now, has no specific instructions.

"Our findings suggest that screening seniors in the hospital for malnutrition risk and providing cost-effective treatment for those who are malnourished or at risk, can have a positive health impact on outcomes," Julia Thornton Snider, PhD, at Precision Health Economics and lead author for the study said in Abbott Laboratories’ press release. "In addition, our new readmission data suggests economic benefits for the hospital, including how they may better achieve the new Medicare mandates for reducing readmission rates in elderly COPD patients."