Improving the rate of anthropometric measurements in the pediatric intensive care unit

Autumn Pace, Amanda Zobel, Laura Gearman, Dale Seitzer, Catherine Larson-Nath, Arif Somani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Malnutrition occurs in approximately 25% of pediatric intensive care patients and correlates with increased length of stay, prolonged ventilation, and mortality. Anthropometric measurements should be obtained at admission and throughout hospitalization to evaluate nutrition status. We aimed to increase documentation, reporting, and discussion of anthropometric measurements, including height/length, weight, and occipital frontal circumference (OFC) within 24 hours of admission and weekly. Methods: A multifaceted process improvement model was implemented over 1 month. Interventions included education, recruiting nurse champions, process mapping, new equipment, and formal discussion of nutrition status during rounds. A proportions hypothesis test compared frequency of anthropometric measures obtained during each study phase: preintervention, postintervention, and sustainment. Results: In terms of admission metrics over respective study phases, the PICU had fluctuation in weights (91%, 98%, and 97%) and height (49%, 73%, and 71%) and increased rates in OFC (36%, 61%, and 65%). The cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) had stable weights (100%, 100%, and 100%) and increased rates in height (87%, 94%, and 95%) and OFC (28%, 64%, and 86%), respectively. In terms of weekly metrics over study phases, the PICU had fluctuation in weights (91%, 89%, and 93%) and increased rates in heights (38%, 69%, and 76%) and OFC (45%, 76%, and 100%). The CVICU had increased rates in weights (98%, 100%, and 100%) and fluctuations in heights (50%, 83%, and 75%), and OFC (48%, 84%, and 75%). Conclusions: Interventions increased rates of measurements. During the sustainment phase, there was regression in rates, although these remained above baseline. Additional interventions may increase compliance and foster change in unit culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNutrition in Clinical Practice
Early online dateApr 30 2021
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 30 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition


  • anthropometry
  • critical care
  • nutrition assessment
  • pediatrics
  • quality improvement

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