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Nurse pioneers new device to reduce NG tube insertion errors

A nurse-led trial has found that a new electronic tool could reduce the number of preventable injuries and deaths caused by wrongly inserting nasogastric tubes.

The study, led by Tracy Earley, a consultant nutrition nurse at Royal Preston Hospital, tested a new fibre-optic device which can tell clinicians definitively if a nasogastric tube – which is inserted through the nose and delivers food, hydration and medicine into the stomach – has been placed correctly.

Currently, to check if nasogastric tubes – also referred to as NG tubes – are in the right place, nurses have to extract bodily fluid from the patient through the tube. Clinicians then test this fluid on a pH strip to judge whether the placement is correct.

Studies show that interpreting the pH level results in mistakes 12-30% of the time, and that in 46% of cases nurses are unable to draw aspirate at all. This means patients have to undergo x-rays, leaving them without nutrition or treatment for longer.

The study tested a device called NGPod, which uses a fibre-optic sensor to retrieve the pH reading from the tip of the NG tube leading to a definitive 'yes' or 'no' result in terms of whether it has been placed correctly – removing the need for aspirate or interpretation from the health professional.

It found that the device was as accurate as pH strip testing, and removed all of the risks associated with making subjective pH strip judgements.

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Source: Nursing Times, 18 July 2023


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