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Frequency of and Reasons for False-Positive Consults Generated by the Malnutrition Screening Tool

Sturgill, Alison MS, RD, LD; Stanczyk, Kathy PhD, RD, LD; Crouch, Lori MS, RD, LD; Byrd, Karen PhD, RD, LD

Journal of Nursing Care Quality: April/June 2019 - Volume 34 - Issue 2 - p E1–E6
doi: 10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000338

Background: Nutrition screening on admission is one way to identify patients with malnutrition. The Malnutrition Screening Tool (MST) is a commonly used screening tool but has been found to generate false-positive consults.

Purpose: The purpose of this research was two-fold: (1) to determine the percentage of nursing screens, using the MST, that generated a false-positive consult for a registered dietitian, and (2) to identify the reasons for these false-positive consults.

Methods: During a 3-month period, registered dietitians documented the number of false-positive consults received from the MST and reasons they were received.

Results: Of the registered dietitian consults generated, 5.5% were deemed false-positive. The most common reason for a false-positive consult was patient-reported weight loss that had resolved.

Conclusions: As nurses are integral to completion of the MST, data generated can be used in ongoing education of nursing staff.

Department of Applied Health Sciences, Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky (Mss Sturgill and Crouch and Drs Stanczyk and Byrd); and Food and Nutrition Department, Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia (Ms Sturgill).

Correspondence: Alison Sturgill, MS, RD, LD, Food and Nutrition Department, Emory University Hospital, 1364 Clifton Rd, Room FG06, Atlanta, GA 30322 (

The authors thank Brittany Burnette, RD, LD; Moira Faris, MPH, RDN, LD, CDE; Michelle Gooden, RDN-AP, LD; Caroline Grosch, RD, LD; Emily Huskey, RD, LD; Kristy Kalich, RDN, LD; Sara Sawicki, MS, RD, LD; Elizabeth Sells, RD, LD; Sarah Smith, MS, RD, LD; and Rupal Trivedi, RD, LD, for their assistance with the study.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Accepted for publication: March 12, 2018

Published ahead of print: April 19, 2018

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