Tube feedings are sometimes used for patients who have trouble swallowing or cannot take food or medicine by mouth.
The feeding tube that goes into the stomach through the nose is called a nasogastric (NG) feeding tube.
Supplies you will need
- Prescribed tube feeding formula
- Water (room temperature)
- 60 mL syringe
- Disposable gloves
What to do
- Explain to the patient what you are going to do, even if you are unsure whether they can hear you.
- Wash your hands.
- Help the patient to sit up – or elevate the head of the bed, 30-45 degrees.
- Place a clean towel on the patient’s chest area to protect from spills.
- Shake the formula to mix well.
- Put on gloves.
- Unplug the end of the feeding tube.
- To be sure the tube is in the correct place in the stomach:
- attach the 60 mL syringe to the feeding tube and pull back gently on the plunger, within a few seconds you should see stomach fluid (green-yellow)
- push the fluid back into the stomach
- if you get a full 60 mLs of fluid , push the fluid back into the stomach and hold the feeding until next scheduled time.
- Remove the syringe from the end of the feeding tube and plug the tube.
- Remove the plunger from the barrel of the syringe.
- Put the tip of the syringe into the feeding tube.
- Fill the syringe with formula and unplug the tube.
- Allow gravity to drain the formula into the tube. Raise syringe to allow gravity to drain formula into the tube.
- Pour additional formula into barrel of syringe when it is ¾ empty.
- It should take about 10 minutes to give about 1 cup of feeding. If the formula is given too fast the patient may have stomach upset. Lowering the syringe slightly will slow the flow of formula in to the feeding tube.
- Try to keep the syringe from emptying. Clamp the tube to refill the syringe if you need to. If it becomes empty, air may enter the stomach and cause gas.
- When the formula has been given, remove the syringe and replace the plunger.
- Fill syringe with water (room temperature), re-attach to the feeding tube and gently flush the feeding tube to prevent clogging.
- Remove the syringe and plug the end of the feeding tube to keep it clean.
- Wash the syringe and plunger in warm soapy water and allow to air dry.
- Store syringe in a clean-covered container.
- Have the patient remain in the sitting position with the head of the bed elevated for 30 – 60 minutes.
- Wash your hands.
- Prepare only enough formula that can be used within 24 hours.
- Refrigerate any unused formula. Allow the formula to come to room temperature before inserting it into the feeding tube if the patient finds it more comfortable.
- Call your nurse:
- if you cannot see stomach fluid when checking the placement of the patient’s feeding tube
- if the feeding does not go in easily
- if the patient complains of pain, nausea or vomiting
- if the tube falls out
- if tape on the nose comes loose
- if you hold more than two feedings because of 60 mL volume of stomach fluid.
Adapted from: The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice (10th ed.) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.