Home | News | Fears of scurvy outbreaks not just media fluff: hospital study

Fears of scurvy outbreaks not just media fluff: hospital study

Older hospital patients are not getting all their vitamins. Recent Flinders University research has found large numbers in the cohort have been found to have severe vitamin C deficiency.

The findings give some credence to previous media reports of increased scurvy outbreaks.

Led by Dr Yogesh Sharma, the study authors read the vitamin C levels of general patients admitted between September and November 2017.

More than three quarters had lower than normal levels. More than a third (40 per cent) were classified as having a severe vitamin C deficiency.

Sharma said physicians are often unaware that a large proportion of patients might be vitamin C deficient.

“Socially isolated older people are the high risk group most prone to suffer from vitamin C deficiency – the infirm, those living alone, people struggling with alcoholism and mental health issues – but our research found that this deficiency was found across all types of patients in hospitals aged 60 or over.

It is a more significant issue than we first thought.”

He added very low levels of vitamin C present a serious obstacle to patients’ swift recovery and release.

More broadly, Flinders research into the nutritional wellbeing of older hospital patients showed that more than 50 per cent are malnourished.

Sharma said: “If proper screening was done of older patients’ nutrition when they entered hospital and an effective dietary plan was implemented, it would result in significant cost savings – an estimated $900 per patient.

“If this was applied across all older patients admitted to Flinders Medical Centre, that would equate to a saving of $1.8 million a year. If applied to all hospitals in South Australia, a saving of $9 million a year.”

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