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Preparing and Administering Enteric Tube Medications

Preparing and Administering Enteric Tube Medications



Enteric tube medication administration is indicated for patients with impaired swallowing, neurological, or other conditions associated with increased risk of aspiration, or when the patient is unable to maintain an adequate oral intake of fluid or calories.

Medications administered through an enteric tube are typically oral preparations that must either be crushed into powder by the nurse or prepared into suspension or liquid form by the pharmacy. Like for any medication administration procedure, a nurse must follow and complete the five "rights" at the three safety checkpoints. Additionally, before administration, the nurse must also confirm that the tube still terminates in the intended gastrointestinal location.

This video presents the process of both assessing enteric tube placement and administering medications through the tube.

Upon entering the patient's room, perform proper hand hygiene.

Next, walk to the bedside computer and log into the electronic health record, or EHR. Review the patient's medical history and any recorded allergies to confirm potential adverse reactions. In the EHR, review the electronic Medication Administration Record, or MAR. On the MAR, find the meds to be administered at that time. Ask the patient if they have a preference or concerns prior to acquiring and preparing the medication. Some patients are sensitive to large volumes of fluid administered through the enteral tube or request fluids and medications to be administered slowly to avoid nausea. After confirming with the patient, exit out of the EHR, leave the room, and perform hand hygiene.

Next, in the medication preparation area, acquire the enteric tube medications from the medication dispensing device and complete the first safety check using the 5 "rights" of medication administration. Now, prepare the enteric tube medication as indicated in the patient's MAR, pharmacy instructions, nurse drug guide, patient preference, and according to best practices and institutional policies and procedures. For tablets, open the tablet packaging and use a pill mortar and pestle or a pill crusher to crush the tablet into a powder. Ensure that you create fine powder to decrease the likelihood of clogging the enteric tube. Empty the contents of the mortar or pill crusher into a medication cup. If two or more drugs have to be administered, they should never be crushed and mixed together.

Write the medication name and dosage on a tape or a pre-printed medication label. Some institutions may require additional information according to their medication labeling policy. Dispose of all medication packaging in the proper disposal receptacle. Now, complete the second safety check using the 5 "rights" of medication administration.

Finally, gather the needed supplies: two 60-mL catheter-tip syringes, a graduated cylinder, a bottle of sterile water or normal saline, plastic medication cups, 2 washcloths or small towels, a pH indicator strip bottle or package, a roll of silk or cloth tape, and an indelible marker. Take the supplies into the patient's room.

Upon first entering the patient's room, set the medications and supplies down on the counter and perform hand hygiene. Next, place a washcloth or a small towel at the base of the neck and over the chest of the patient as protection, in case fluid inadvertently leaks from the tube or syringe during the assessment and administration processes. Elevate the head of the bed to 30-45° and pull the bedside table to a working height.

Open the bottle of sterile water or normal saline and pour 30 to 60 mL of fluid into the graduated cylinder. Then open both packages of 60-mL catheter-tip syringes and place the syringes on a clean washcloth or towel.

Now, proceed to confirm enteric tube termination location. Don clean gloves and remove protective cover from the catheter tip of one syringe. Hold the end of the enteric tube between your non-dominant thumb and forefinger, and with your dominant hand, grasp and gently remove the tube plug. Next, gently place the end of the 60-mL catheter-tip syringe into the enteric tube opening until it is secure. Now, gently pull back on the plunger until gastric fluid appears in the syringe. Next, gently twist the syringe while pulling outward to detach it from the enteric tube and place it on the bedside table. Now, grasp the enteric tube plug between the dominant thumb and forefinger and insert it back into the end of the enteric tube.

Subsequently, open the pH indicator strip packaging, remove one pH strip, and hold it between your non-dominant thumb and forefinger. While holding the syringe with your dominant hand, place the pH test strip at the end of the catheter tip and then gently depress the plunger until a drop of fluid forms and saturates the end of the pH test strip. After 3 to 5 seconds, or until the test strip color stabilizes, compare the test strip to the pH chart on the packaging. A pH below 6 is consistent with the pH associated with gastric fluids and confirms the end of the enteric tube is in the gastrointestinal tract.

Next, hold the 60-mL catheter-tip syringe with your non-dominant hand, place the catheter tip into the sterile water or saline in the graduated cylinder, and withdraw 30 mL of fluid. Next, with your non-dominant hand, grasp the end of the enteric tube between your thumb and forefinger and gently remove the enteric tube plug. Hold the syringe in your dominant hand and gently place the end of the catheter into the enteric tube opening, until it is secure. Keeping the syringe upright, gently press the plunger with the thumb of your dominant hand, pushing the gastric fluid back into the tube and then flushing the fluid line with saline. Remove the syringe tip from the end of the enteric tube and place the syringe on the bedside table. Also, place the cap back on the enteric tube.

Perform the third and final medication safety check, adhering to the five "rights" of medication administration. Next, prepare the enteric tube medications. For powdered medications, gently pour 10 to 15 mL of sterile water or normal saline into each medication cup and gently stir with the catheter tip of the syringe until the powder dissolves into the liquid.

To prepare the flush, withdraw 15 mL of the water or saline into the 60-mL syringe. Do this for every medication to be delivered. Each medication must have a 10 to 15 mL flush between medications. Some enteric medications may precipitate and clog the tube if allowed to mix within the nasogastric tubing. Therefore, a generous flushing between and after medication administration is necessary.

Now, hold the syringe in your dominant hand and secure the medication cup with your non-dominant thumb and forefinger. Place the syringe into the medication cup and gently stir the medication with the fluid while simultaneously pulling upward on the syringe plunger. Stirring the medication while withdrawing will allow the medication to remain suspended in the liquid and assure all of the medication is withdrawn. Then place the cup and syringe onto the bedside table.

Next, grasp the end of the enteric tube between your non-dominant thumb and forefinger, remove the enteric plug with your other hand, and gently place the end of the catheter-tip syringe containing the medication into the enteric tube opening until it is secure. Then, with your dominant thumb, gently depress the plunger, pushing the medication into the tube. After administration, remove the empty syringe and place it on the bedside table and pinch the tube to avoid content overflow and loss of medication.

Next, pick up the flush syringe and gently place the end of the catheter into the enteric tube opening, until it is secure. Depress the plunger, pushing 10 to 15 mL of the fluid into the enteric tube, flushing the enteric tube. Repeat these steps for all of the medications. After the last medication has been administered, push at least 30 mL of sterile water or normal saline into the enteric tube to ensure all medications have been cleared and cap the enteric tube.

Next, clean the supplies used. Add 100 mL of sterile water or saline into the graduated cylinder, pull 30 to 60 mL of clean water into the syringe used to administer medications, and then push the fluid out into the sink to clean the syringe. Repeat the process until all medication residue is cleared from the syringe and discard the remaining fluid from the graduated cylinder.

Then, using the tape and marker, label each syringe, cylinder, and bottle of sterile water or saline with the current date and time. These supplies need to be replaced every 24 hours to prevent growth of pathogens, and any unlabeled supplies present in the room should be discarded and replaced with new ones. Dispose of the medication cups and packaging into the appropriate trash receptacles and remove the cloth from the patient and bedside table and place them in the dirty linen receptacle.

After administration, document enteric tube medication administration in the patient's EHR. Record the date, time, and site of the enteric tube medication administration and the findings of the enteric tube termination assessment. Also, include the total volume of fluid administered-including medication fluid administration and post-administration flushes-in the fluid intake section of the EHR. Then, leave the patient's room and perform hand hygiene.

"Enteric tubes serve multiple purposes, including stomach decompression, enteric feeding, and administration of medications or the oral contrast. Prior to instilling any fluid or medication into the enteric tube, it is important to confirm that the tube terminates in the intended location in the gastrointestinal tract using the pH strip confirmation method."

"A common error associated with administering enteric tube medications is drawing all medications into the 60-mL catheter-tip syringe at the same time. Doing so may result in inadvertent clogging of the enteric tube or exposure of medications to each other in a non-acidic environment. This could potentially result in alterations of medication action and an adverse reaction in the patient."

"Another common error is failing to flush the enteric tube between and following medication administration, which could result in interaction between the medications or enteric tube occlusion, requiring the replacement of the tube."

You've just watched JoVE's video on preparation and administration of enteric tube medications. You should now understand how to prepare the medications for administration, how to check that the enteric tube terminates in the correct position, and the safe practices of medication administration using the five "rights." As always, thanks for watching!

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