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Enteral Feedings With Comfort and Safety

Daria Arbogast
CJON 2002, 6(5), 275-280 DOI: 10.1188/02.CJON.275-280

Patients who are unable to eat by mouth can be fed in a manner that maintains the structural and functional integrity of the gastrointestinal tract. The appropriate choice of type of feeding tube to use is based on the reasons patients need to be tube fed and the expected duration of need for the tube. Once the tubes are placed, verification of placement is critical for safe use. Patients, family caregivers, and staff must assess for potential complications. Misplacement is the most common problem of feeding tubes. Life-threatening complications can include "refeed syndrome" and "buried bumper syndrome." Additional threats include contaminated tube feeding and inappropriate medication administration. Feeding too rapidly into the small intestine can cause necrosis of the small bowel. To maintain patient comfort, site care is critical. Nasogastric tubes can cause permanent deformity of the nares. Gastric drainage on the skin can cause painful excoriation that is difficult to manage. With careful monitoring of tube feedings, positive nutritional status can be achieved. A positive nutritional status assists in promoting health and immune function.

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