Hardly anyone would argue with the contention that adequate nutrition is essential to the maintenance of health and to recovery from injury or illness. There might be considerable debate concerning the definition of "adequate," and what methods should be employed to deliver nutritional requirements under conditions of increased needs. Almost everyone would agree, however, that the physician has an obligation to make every effort to provide the things necessary to sustain life, particularly when the patient is unable to provide them for himself. This includes carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, as well as antibiotics, pacemakers, respirators, and artificial organs.
There is now a growing body of evidence that the nutritional support of hospitalized patients is far from ideal.1-3 In fact, it could be described as shocking. Elsewhere in this issue (p 858), Bistrian et al present the findings of a survey carried out in a large urban hospital.