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August 1981

Malnutrition in Veterans Administration Surgical Patients: Updated Standards

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Martinez, Calif.

Arch Surg. 1981;116(8):1059-1061. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1981.01380200057012

• A prospective nutritional assessment of 106 hospitalized Veterans Administration surgical patients was performed; 60 healthy, age-matched outpatient veterans were studied for controls. Standard biochemical and anthropometric indices were measured. Malnutrition was defined for each index as a value more than 2 SD below the mean established from the VA control population, the values from which were also compared with conventionally accepted published standards of malnutrition. Striking discrepancies in the incidence of abnormal nutritional indices in our patients were observed, depending on which standard was used. The frequencies of abnormal in our surgical patients using VA control values or published norms, respectively, were: albumin level, 43% vs 19%; hematocrit value, 38% vs 27%; total iron-binding capacity, 30% vs 37%; arm muscle circumference, 11% vs 0%; and triceps skin fold, 19% vs 35%. Future studies of nutritional assessment in hospitalized patients should use control subjects closely related to the target population in age and other demographic variables. (Arch Surg 1981;116:1059-1061)

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