[ Vol. 14 No. 1 ] (January - April 2013 )
Medication safety in tube feeding patients

Heng-Sim Lee
Department of Pharmacy, Chiayi Branch Taichung Veterans General Hospital (Taiwan)


Enteral nutrition support via a feeding tube is a preferred and broadly applied way of artificial nutrition in patients who cannot take up orally an adequate amount of nutrients.  These patients often need simultaneous drug therapy as well. Thus, drug delivery may be complicated in hospitalized patients receiving nutrition via enteral feeding tubes. Dosage form selection, appropriate administration routes and reduce risk of drug-nutrient interactions that can lead to either clogging of the tube or the change in bioavailability of the drug also can have a direct effect on the therapeutic outcome, and are crucial in patients with feeding tubes.

Most nurses rely primarily on their own experiences and that of coworkers for information regarding the preparation and administration of enteral medications. The few rely on pharmacists, nutritionists, or printed guidelines which has resulted in a variety of improper techniques and an overall lack of consistency. In one survey, 74% of hospital staff used at least two incorrect methods to administer drugs via feeding tubes.

Several studies have shown that all of these problems do occur in practice and nurses receive little or no training in this specific area of patient care. Measures to improve the quality of oral drug administration in patients with enteral feeding tubes may consist of introducing guidelines, training nurses, or pharmacists, advices. An integrated program comprising all of these measures is likely to optimize safety and efficacy of drug therapy in patients with feeding tubes, resulting in the greatest improvements.

The 14th Congress of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Society of Asia
“From Nutrition Support to Nutrition Therapy”
October 14-16, 2011, Taipei, Taiwan 
Page: 27