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Nursing Homes Abuse Blog By Jonathan Rosenfeld

Feeding Tube Complications

complications through a feeding tubeWhile feeding tubes are beneficial if an elderly patient is unable to take in sustenance the traditional way[G1] , improper use or carelessness could lead to feeding tube complications. It is important that staff members are aware of infection control and hygiene procedures before they are allowed to work with patients who require assisted feeding.

What are these feeding tubes?

The feeding tube is a medical device placed inside of the patient’s stomach through their nose when the patient is unable to take in enough nutrition by swallowing him- or herself. With chronic disabilities, the placement of a feeding tube could be permanent or just a temporary solution to treat acute conditions. This involves guiding a thin tube through the nose that ends up in the small intestine (NJ tubes) or into the stomach (NG-tubes). If the patient requires long-term use of a feeding tube, it is possible that an incision is made into the abdomen and the tube is directly inserted into the stomach or small intestine.

These are necessary when there is a demonstrated medical need to prevent dehydration or malnutrition. However, it is important to pay close attention to these residents, because additional complications with feeding tubes include dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

Why feeding tubes are a last resort

It is important that staff members and nursing home management recognize feeding tubes need to be a last resort, not something that staff members in a nursing home use to make their jobs easier. Some of the feeding tube complications include a loss of functioning (after prolonged use) and serious psychological and medical problems.

Far too often do staff members allow for the placement of feeding tubes because it is easier than overseeing a resident finish his or her own food, regardless of how long it takes. No tube should ever be used if the resident is able to get adequate nutrition by eating. Remember that understaffing is never an acceptable excuse to set up a feeding tube.

Even if the nursing home temporarily requires the use of a feeding tube, remember steps must be taken to ensure that the patient eats orally again as quickly as possible. At no point should staff members become complacent with the long-term use of a feeding tube.

More feeding tube problems

It is important that nursing staff pay close attention to those residents who are tube fed. Vomiting, nausea, and constipation are all problems that are more likely in these patients. Studies have shown that the nutrition garnered from these feeding tubes is not enough to improve muscle function and muscle mass. Depending on the type of feeding tube being utilized, the devices may also become clogged restricting the food and liquid intake and consequently serious complications.

Take into consideration that while Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria may be harmless on the surface of our skin, it can become fatal after entering the body. Especially in older residents who already have a compromised immune system. Studies have found that these feeding tubes are a rather convenient entry point for the infection if staff members are careless with sanitary procedures.

Know when legal action regarding feeding tube complications is necessary

Unfortunately, inadequate staffing and training can lead to serious feeding tube complications. If you do believe the use of feeding tubes was unnecessary or that significant mistakes were made that led to feeding tube complications in someone you care about, it is important to raise awareness and speak out. Remember that steps you take now may help prevent mistakes in the future.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has litigated feeding tube complication cases involving fatalities and permanent injury. Our experience in this area is truly second to none. We invite you to talk to our attorneys for a free and candid discussion of your circumstance. (888) 424-5757

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