Feeding tubes can be an essential tool used to administer medicine to patients who need it. People who have difficulty swallowing or difficulty feeding may need enteral feeding tubes. Although an essential tool, more must be done to prevent errors that occur when preparing and administering medications via enteral feeding tubes. Enteral feeding tubes allow liquid food to enter the stomach or intestine through a tube. Enteral feeding tube errors occur for a variety of reasons, including gaps in training, incorrect tube or route size, improper preparation, and utilization of the wrong administration technique.
What Are the Causes of Feeding Tube Mistakes?
In some instances, practitioners have not received the proper training associated with prescribing, verifying, prepping, and administering specific medications through feeding tubes. Knowledge may be passed down from practitioners, but there may lack a standard policy for doing so to ensure that there are no gaps in knowledge. Additionally, there are errors that occur if a prescriber selects an incorrect route, such as selecting the oral route of administration for a patient who actually requires medication via an enteral feeding tube. Improper preparation can result in adverse reactions for the patient and the practitioner. In these scenarios, if a practitioner fails to use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and crushes a hazardous medication, this can result in toxicity or reduced efficacy of the medication. Additionally, error also occurs if the wrong administration technique is used. This includes mixing multiple medications together to give to a patient at once, failing to flush the tube before and after medication administration, and mixing medications with enteral feedings.
In order to prevent these errors, practitioners should screen for enteral feeding tube restrictions, create policies that are located in a central location for reference, and should ensure that practitioners are properly educated on how to safely prepare and administer medication. In addition, because patients will often follow the same procedure to prepare and administer medications at home, it is important to educate patients about safe practices. If you have reason to suspect that a loved one has suffered injuries due to error that occurred during the administration of medication via an enteral feeding tube, contact an experienced and skilled medical malpractice attorney today to discuss your options.