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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

While patients with anorexia nervosa have a high mortality rate, more are living into adulthood. Patients with severe malnutrition secondary to anorexia nervosa often require hospitalization for medical stabilization prior to treatment in eating disorders programs.

METHODS:

We developed the ACUTE Center at Denver Health Medical Center to medically stabilize adults with the medical complications of severe malnutrition due to an eating disorder. The first 2 years of patient characteristics and outcomes are reported.

RESULTS:

From October 2008 through December 2010, the ACUTE unit had 76 admissions of which 62 were for medical stabilization, comprising 54 patients. Eighty-nine percent of patients were female. The mean age was 27 years old (range 17–65). The mean body mass index on admission was 12.9 kg/m2 (standard deviation [SD] 2.0). At admission, patients were hyponatremic, anemic, and leukopenic, with low bone density, but had normal albumin levels. The mean body mass index on discharge was 13.1 ± 1.9 kg/m2. Median length of stay was 16 days (interquartile range [IQR] 9–29 days). Eighteen percent were discharged to home and eighty-two percent were discharged to inpatient psychiatric eating disorder units. Inpatient mortality was zero.

DISCUSSION:

Patients with this degree of severe malnutrition due to eating disorders are medically complex and relatively uncommon. Regionalized subspecialty centers of excellence, in which a multidisciplinary team is led by practitioners of hospital medicine who have developed expertise in a rare condition, may improve clinical outcomes, optimize healthcare resources, and provide unique professional and academic opportunities for the clinicians involved. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2012;. © 2012 Society of Hospital Medicine