Guidelines for the Provision and Assessment of Nutrition Support Therapy in the Adult Critically Ill Patient: Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.)

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Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition

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A.S.P.E.N. and SCCM are both nonprofit organizations composed of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals. The mission of A.S.P.E.N. is to improve patient care by advancing the science and practice of clinical nutrition and metabolism. The mission of SCCM is to secure the highest-quality care for all critically ill and injured patients.

Guideline Limitations

These A.S.P.E.N.-SCCM Clinical Guidelines are based on general conclusions of health professionals who, in developing such guidelines, have balanced potential benefits to be derived from a particular mode of medical therapy against certain risks inherent with such therapy. However, practice guidelines are not intended as absolute requirements. The use of these practice guidelines does not in any way project or guarantee any specific benefit in outcome or survival.

The judgment of the healthcare professional based on individual circumstances of the patient must always take precedence over the recommendations in these guidelines.

The guidelines offer basic recommendations that are supported by review and analysis of the current literature, other national and international guidelines, and a blend of expert opinion and clinical practicality. The population of critically ill patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) is not homogeneous. Many of the studies on which the guidelines are based are limited by sample size, patient heterogeneity, variability in disease severity, lack of baseline nutrition status, and insufficient statistical power for analysis.

Periodic Guideline Review and Update

This particular report is an update and expansion of guidelines published by A.S.P.E.N. and SCCM in 2009.1 Governing bodies of both A.S.P.E.N. and SCCM have mandated that these guidelines be updated every 3–5 years. The database of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that served as the platform for the analysis of the literature was assembled in a joint “harmonization process” with the Canadian Clinical Guidelines group. Once completed, each group operated separately in its interpretation of the studies and derivation of guideline recommendations.2 The current A.S.P.E.N. and SCCM guidelines included in this paper were derived from data obtained via literature searches by the authors through December 31, 2013. Although the committee was aware of landmark studies published after this date, these data were not included in this manuscript. The process by which the literature was evaluated necessitated a common end date for the search review. Adding a last-minute landmark trial would have introduced bias unless a formalized literature search was reconducted for all sections of the manuscript.


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This article was co-published in the SCCM Publication, Critical Care Medicine.

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