January 2006, Volume 36 Number 1 , p 76 - 77
SERNA, ESPERANZA D. RN, CCRN, BSN; MCCARTHY, MARY S. RN, CNSN, MN
FOR A SERIOUSLY ILL adult, enteral nutrition can be lifesaving. Providing nutrients directly into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract with a gastric or jejunal enteral tube system can maintain his nutritional status when he can't eat normally and is at risk for malnutrition.
While generally considered safer and more physiologic than total parenteral nutrition, enteral tube feedings do have risks and potential complications. The most serious of these is bronchopulmonary aspiration, which can be fatal. In this article, we'll discuss how you can reduce the risk of aspiration during enteral feeding.
Why so risky?
A critically ill patient is vulnerable to aspiration because of decreased level of consciousness, altered GI motility, and slower gastric emptying. An artificial airway (especially if the patient is nasotracheally or orotracheally intubated) or nasogastric ...