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Bedside Assessment of Enteral Tube Placement: Aligning Practice with Evidence

Simons, Shellie Robin PhD, RN; Abdallah, Lisa M. PhD, RN, CNE

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: February 2012 - Volume 112 - Issue 2 - p 40–46
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000411178.07179.68
Feature Articles

OVERVIEW: Since the flexible Levin tube was introduced in 1921, enteral feeding has become ubiquitous. From the out-set, nurses have been responsible for confirming the correct placement of enteral feeding tubes prior to their use for alimentation or medication administration, but current nursing practice doesn't always reflect the best evidence. Although research has established the inadequacy of auscultation to determine proper tube placement, this method is still commonly practiced. The authors examine the research that's been conducted over the past 25 years and compare the accumulated evidence with current practice, as reflected in a convenience sample of 28 New England hospitals. In addition, they evaluate various methods for assessing enteral feeding tubes and make evidence-based practice recommendations.

To protect patients from life-threatening errors, nurses need to follow a consistently reliable procedure for placing and assessing the placement of enteral feeding tubes.

Shellie Robin Simons is an assistant professor of nursing and Lisa M. Abdallah is an associate professor of nursing, both at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Contact author: Shellie Robin Simons, The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.