Hospitals Are Making a Killing

It is intuitive that nutritional status at hospital admission predicts the outcome of treatment and length of stay.  Yet too many older patients are over-drugged and undernourished on the day of their admission to the hospital and not only experience more complications and hospital-acquired infections, but by conservative estimation spend an extra costly day or two in the hospital.

If nutritional assessment and corrective therapy were to be instituted upon hospital admission and reduced hospital length of stay by just 1 day, it is estimated in this report that practice would save $73 billion to Medicare Part A.  That represents 24.5% of the $293 billion of Medicare funds spent on hospitalization (Part A).

This is just the estimated savings that would be achieved if nutrient deficiencies for just two vitamins – vitamins C and D, were to be corrected upon hospital admission.  Further savings in billions of dollars would be anticipated for correction of other common essential nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B1, B9 (folic acid), B12, zinc and magnesium. 

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In the other direction, reduction of levels of iron by phlebotomy (blood letting) among newly hospitalized patients would predictably reduce morbidity and mortality among the many iron-overloaded patients who enter the hospital.

One authoritative study shows patients admitted to the hospital with high iron levels as evidenced by elevated iron transport protein (transferrin) have longer hospital stays (11.1 days) than patients with lower iron levels (8.4 days) and are more likely to die in the hospital compared to patients with lower ferritin levels.


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