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Aspiration Assessment and Prevention in Critically Ill Enterally Fed Patients: Evidence‐Based Recommendations for Practice

Sanko, Jill S. RN, CRNP


Providing nutrition to patients is a vitally important aspect of care. Enterally feeding even critically ill patients remains the method of choice for most prescribers; however, the decision to provide nutrition via the enteral route comes with the added concern of bronchopulmonary aspiration as a complication. The majority of the literature and research on enteral feeding is out of date and focuses primarily on ways to identify aspiration, rather then preventing it. Although much of this research and literature is not current, many valid and useful recommendations have been made that can be applied to current practice. These recommendations are synthesized in this article in an effort to improve the quality and safety of administration of enteral nutrition to critically ill patients. However, this compiled information is limited to the current resources. More research should be done to decrease the risk of aspiration in this delicate population.

Jill S. Sanko, RN, CRNP, is Nurse Practioner, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Correspondence to: Jill S. Sanko, RN, CRNP, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 10, Room 1c258, Bethesda, MD 20892 (e-mail:

Received April 30, 2004; accepted September 8, 2004.

© The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses & Associates 2004. All Rights Reserved.