What Nursing Homes Can Do to Prevent Feeding Tube Complications
The use of NG, PEG and other feeding tubes can give rise to numerous complications if nursing home staff fails to properly monitor them. Common complications include aspiration pneumonia and infection. If your elderly loved one requires the use of enteral nutrition, make sure the nursing home has created a full monitoring and care program to keep your loved one healthy.
Common Preventative Measures
Fortunately, there are numerous steps nursing home staff can take to avoid common feeding tube complications, including:
- Check feeding tube position on a regular basis to avoid displacement, which could lead to infection or aspiration
- Assess the patient’s abdomen for signs of fullness or distension to avoid malabsorption of nutrients, vomiting and constipation
- Increase the patient’s elevation to avoid increased risk of aspiration
- Follow the doctor’s specific orders for rate and method of feeding to avoid diarrhea
- Monitor the patient’s weight, intake and output to avoid fluid and electrolyte imbalance
- Clean and flush the tube per instructions to avoid clogging
- Care for the tube insertion site on an ongoing basis to avoid skin irritation, leaking and infection
- Adjust bumpers and tubes as needed to account for weight gain
Review your loved one’s care plan to make sure these and other steps are in place. If you do not see a checklist to avoid feeding tube complications, ask questions immediately and request that the staff create a plan – and follow it – immediately.
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Why Some Nursing Homes Cannot Avoid Problems With Enteral Nutrition
Even if the above list of items seems fairly simple to implement, not all nursing homes are up to the task. This is often due to understaffed nursing homes, where there are not enough hands on deck at any given time to provide the quantity or quality assessments that patients require. In other situations, nursing homes do not have enough trained staff on hand that can identify issues or take action to prevent problems from occurring.
The best thing you can do to ensure your loved one will receive the care he or she needs and deserves is to ask questions about staffing before your loved one moves in. You should also visit often and ask your loved one about the level of care he or she receives on a daily basis. At the first sign of infection, illness or other problem, raise your voice, ask questions and demand immediate action.
Contact us at (847) 869-9100 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.