Unsafe Medication Practices Play Harmful Role in Feeding Tube Errors
Feeding tube related neglect ranks high as one of the many care issues occurring throughout U.S. nursing homes today. Many facilities fail to commit the time and staffing to allow for extra nutritional care such as hand-feeding. There is also a temptation to overuse the tubes simply for facility cost-savings, regardless of the resident’s best interest. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices reports nearly one-third of nursing home residents with advanced cognitive impairments, such as dementia, receive their daily nutrients and medications through feeding tubes. Unfortunately, those familiar with basic elder abuse scenarios understand that residents with mental impairments and those who require extra care with daily activities such as feeding, grooming, and using the bathroom are always far more likely to fall victim to neglect.
Most feeding tubes are inserted during an acute-care hospitalization and remain in use after a discharge. But feeding tubes can cause serious patient harm including infections like pressure sores, depression, and death if not necessary or handled with the specialized care required to keep them clean and in proper use. One underreported hazard of these tubes occurs during the preparation or administering of daily medications. As noted by Joseph Boullata, PharmD, BCNSP, in an article published by the National Institutes of Health titled, “Drug Administration Through an Enteral Feeding Tube,” these four common errors can occur while administering drugs via feeding tube.