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A team of clinicians, dietitians and researchers has created an automated program to screen for malnutrition in hospitalized children, providing daily alerts to healthcare providers so they can quickly intervene with appropriate treatment. The malnutrition screen draws on existing patient data in electronic health records (EHR).

“Undernutrition is extremely common in children with cancer–the population we studied in this project,” said study leader Charles A. Phillips, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “There is currently no universal, standardized approach to nutrition screening for children in hospitals, and our project is the first fully automated pediatric malnutrition screen using EHR data.”

Phillips and a multidisciplinary team of fellow oncology clinicians, registered dietitians and quality improvement specialists co-authored a paper published Oct. 5, 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Nutrition evaluation and intervention are crucial for children in inpatient units, because of the importance of nutrition in physical and cognitive development, wound healing, immune function, mortality and quality of life. Phillips added that although the current study used oncology patients as a test case, the screen can be generalized to other pediatric units and patients with a high prevalence of malnutrition.

The study team analyzed

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