Nutrition in surgical patients
Important as malnutrition contributes to:
- Poor wound healing
- Depletion of protein stores
- Wasting of muscles
- Respiratory depression
It is suggested that screening for malnutrition with something like the MUST score may allow at risk patients to be identified.
Severe malnutrition requires careful reversal, as refeeding syndrome can provide the terminal event for the patient.
Oral nutrition with food is generally the best approach, and for at least a generation we have known that improvements in this would be welcome and effective in hospitals, but supplements given orally to provide energy and specific parts of food, delivery into the gut "enteral nutrition" where swallowing problems are a barrier to nourishment and as a dangerous and expensive later resort, total parenteral nutrition may be required and have their places.