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Nasogastric Tube Feedings and Gastric Residual Volume: A Regional Survey

Shoaib Ahmad, MD, Vu Le, MD, Sindhu Kaitha, MD, Jordan Morton, MD, Tauseef Ali, MD
Volume: 105 Issue: 8 August, 2012

Abstract:

Objectives: To maintain adequate nutrition for patients who are in need, enteral feeding via nasogastric tube (NGT) is necessary. Although the literature suggests the safety of continued NGT feeding at a gastric residual volume of <400 mL, inconsistencies in withholding tube feeding based on residual volume have been observed in clinical practice. We performed a regional survey to determine the range of current practice among nursing staff regarding the decision to withhold NGT feeding based on residual volume and the factors that influence the decision-making process.


Methods: A questionnaire was designed to evaluate nursing practice patterns regarding the decision of withholding NGT feeding based on a certain residual volume, which was distributed to the nursing staff at all major hospitals in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Statistical analysis was done with the Fisher exact test. All of the statistical tests were carried out at α = 0.05.


Results: A total of 582 nurses completed the survey. Residual volumes (milliliters) resulting in the termination of NGT feeding occurred in 89% of nurses at volumes <300 mL and only 3% of nurses at volumes >400 mL. Three main reasons for nurses to withhold NGT feeding were risk of aspiration (90%), potential feeding intolerance (81%), and risk of regurgitation (67%). Other less common concerns were abdominal distension and abdominal discomfort.


Conclusions: The decision of withholding NGT feeding varied among the nursing staff that were surveyed. A consensus is necessary for the standardization of withholding NGT feeding in clinical practice among nursing staff.

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