Background: malnutrition is a largely underestimated problem for elderly surgical hospitalized patients. The primary cause is loss of appetite and an increased need for nutrients. The nursing staff needs tools to attend to the problem. Studies show that optimizing the nutritional effort at hospitals prevents malnutrition and reduces mortality.

Aim: To identify nutritional risks for the elderly surgical hospitalized patient who are medicated. Method: The literature was searched through: PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, Clinical Nutrition, Scopus and Embase in the period 2001-2011.

Results: The findings suggest that: age, gender, type of illness, medication: > 5 different preparations, the length of hospital stay and the method used for defining malnutrition are significant risk factors in relation to malnutrition among surgical patients who are medicated.

Conclusion: Nurses have important obligations concerning the treatment of nutritional needs and the prevention of malnutrition of hospitalized patients. It is vital that nurses have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide nutritional advice or refer patients and relatives to for example a dietician.