Medication management of patients with enteral feeding tubes

Nurse giving patient water use glass syringe to irrigate nasogastric tube in hospital

The administration of medicines via enteral tubes is complex and potentially prone to error:

  • enteral tubes are primarily designed for food and liquid administration
  • most medicines are not licensed or designed for administration via enteral tubes
  • reformulation by crushing or dispersing renders the medicine unlicensed and may be clinically unsafe or can result in tube blockage
  • tube blockage is a common problem and can have negative impacts for patients and healthcare professionals.

At the point of enteral tube initiation, medicines should be reviewed to ensure that the number of medicines and administrations are minimised, and that the route and timing of administration is appropriate and without contraindications.

This working party guideline provides a practical guide to prescribing and administering drugs to patients with enteral feeding tubes, including two quick-reference algorithms.

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