Deaths involving malnutrition are increasing. What’s the cause?

February 21, 2018   //   No Comments

Death due to malnutrition is very uncommon. In 2016 there were 90 deaths given an underlying cause of malnutrition (66 of those in NHS hospitals) and another 391 (285 in hospital) where it was mentioned on the death certificate as contributing to the death.  These figures represent around 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 2,000 respectively of all the deaths registered in England and Wales. Given these very small numbers, the figures are liable to fluctuate from year to year, and it is difficult to establish statistically meaningful trends.

Some commentators have suggested that these deaths reveal poor quality of care in NHS hospitals however the data do not provide evidence for that conclusion.  Evidence on time trends in deaths involving malnutrition is inconclusive, but there has been an increase over time in the number of patients admitted to hospital while already malnourished. This may suggest that malnutrition is increasingly prevalent in the community, possibly associated with the ageing of the population and an increase in long-term chronic diseases.

Read the full ONS blog here.