305 Railroad Ave Suite 5 Nevada City, CA. (530)265-0186

Feeding Tube

A feeding tube is a medical device used to provide
nutrition to patients who cannot obtain adequate nutrition
by swallowing.  Placement of a feeding tube may be
temporary for the treatment of acute conditions or lifelong
in the case of chronic disabilities.

Feeding tubes can only be used as a last resort because
they lead to a loss of functioning, and can cause serious
medical and psychological problems.  If a resident is able
to swallow and can get adequate nutrition by eating, no
matter how long it takes, then no tube should be used.  
Lack of staff available to assist a resident with regular
eating is not an acceptable excuse to install a feeding
tube.

With the resident's consent, a feeding tube can be used if
there is a demonstrated medical need to prevent
malnutrition or dehydration. If a feeding tube becomes
dislodged or malfunctions in a nursing facility, medical
attention should be sought right away, and the tube
should be replaced.

Serious problems arise when caregivers do not recognize
the signs and symptoms of feeding tube dislodgment or
misplacement, and continue to provide feedings in a tube
not securely inside the stomach. When this occurs,
serious injury or death can result. Nursing standards
require that tube placement be checked prior to every
feeding, something frequently overlooked by professional
caregivers.

Residents fed by tube must receive the appropriate
medical treatment and services to prevent aspiration
pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and other
adverse symptoms.

If a feeding tube is being used, the nursing home or care
facility must do what it can to help the resident take food
by mouth again as soon as possible in order to avoid the
long-term use of a feeding tube, which often leads to
serious complications.