Success with tube feeding

What is a Tube Feeding?

Tube feedings are commonly used for individuals who develop dysphagia (an inability to swallow) or who refuse nutrition by mouth.  Tube feedings can be a positive option, however the risks and benefits should be carefully considered along with input from the doctor. Important issues to consider while deciding to use a tube feeding include:

  • Who will care for the patient after the hospital discharge?
  • If the patient comes back to a home setting, who is trained and willing to administer the tube feeding on a regular schedule?
  • How often are the tube feedings?
  • If the patient goes into a facility, what type will be appropriate?

Considerations for Tube Feeding.

The use of tube feedings is quite common these days, but does require preparation and a certain level of skill.  Caring for a patient with a feeding tube includes the following:

  • Feedings can be as often as every 2—4 hours, continuously day and night, for as long as the patient lives.
  • Feeding tubes can clog up without proper flushing. Irrigation may be as frequent as before and after each feeding and on-going.
  • Feeding tubes can wear out, malfunction, or cause infections at the site. Repetitive surgery in a hospital may be needed to replace them. This could happen more than once per year.
  • Confused and agitated patients have been known to pull out a feeding tube.
  • The only home health care professional that is authorized to provide tube feedings is a skilled nurse.
  • The only long-term facility that can administer tube feedings is a nursing home.

McKenney Home Care has successfully assisted many families with the care of a loved one at home with tube feedings.  We have skilled nurses that can visit or stay at your home to manage the feedings.  Please call us if you have any concerns about tube feedings.