As surgeons working in hospitals, we are all too aware of the shortage of nursing personnel for bedside care. To the patient, prosaic essentials such as eating, using a bedpan, keeping clean, and being turned become awesome feats without proper help. Assisting patients in this way does not require the services of a registered or a practical nurse. It could be provided by any well-motivated person with a modicum of intelligence. Obvious sources for such individuals are the patient's friends and family members, whom American medicine, in its infatuation with specialism, has completely ignored, to the detriment of the patient.
In addition to the psychological benefits of having loved ones nearby, a practical advantage would be to ensure good routine nursing care. For this program to be effective, simple concepts and techniques could be imparted to selected family or friends through an introductory lecture or film given at the hospital,