Feeding Tubes

While tube feeding can be very beneficial for those who cannot take in sustenance orally, every healthcare facility should be aware of and prepared to deal with possible complications and the demand for hygiene and infection control. Our nursing home neglect attorneys are well versed in the statutes that delineate the responsibilities of nursing homes to patients’ with assisted feeding, and are ready and willing to aggressively pursue recompense and damages on our clients’ behalf if a facility fails in its duty of care.

Tube feeding may be used to facilitate meeting nutritional needs for a nursing home resident who has difficulty swallowing food or is unable to eat for medical reasons. Tube feeding procedure involves inserting a thin tube through the nose and into the stomach (NG-tubes) or through the nose and into the small intestine (NJ tubes). For long-term tube feeding, the tube may be inserted directly into the stomach or small intestine through an incision in the abdomen.

Nutritional products designed for tube feeding are formulated to provide all the nutrients residents need. For those who are unable to swallow food, tube feeding can increase the quality of life by maintaining appropriate weight levels and nutritional requirements.

Residents who are tube fed require more monitoring from the nursing staff. They are more likely to experience constipation, nausea, and vomiting more frequently than those who received their nutrition orally. Tube-feeding is not sufficient in improving muscle mass and function; a study found that calf circumference was significantly lower and more often reduced in tube-fed residents than orally nourished residents. (For more information, please go to our California Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog.) There is also the danger that a resident with dementia or other cognitive disabilities may pull out the feeding tube, leading to further complications. This is always a danger in nursing homes with inadequate staffing levels.

Residents who receive nutrition through feeding tubes are also at higher risk of malnutrition and infections. For example, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria are harmless and live on the surface of the skin. However, MRSA can become a life-threatening infection once it enters the body, and feeding tubes often serve as convenient entry points.

There are alternatives to tube feeding, such as discontinuing medications that cause eating difficulties, the use of assistive devices, or changing the types of food. Also, if the body no longer absorbs nutrients and cannot utilize them, tube feeding may not be beneficial in prolonging the resident’s life. Therefore, a decision to use tube feeding procedure should be made only after an appropriate evaluation with a physician.

As with most other injuries, including dehydration, malnutrition can often be traced to inadequate staffing levels at a skilled nursing facility. Because residents on feeding tubes require additional monitoring and care, it is highly likely that malnourishment may be a result of understaffing. Here at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, we firmly believe that adequate staffing is a right to which every patient is entitled.

If your loved one has shown any signs of malnutrition, we encourage you to take the appropriate legal actions. Combined with our experience litigating numerous nursing home neglect cases and our dedication to fighting for the rights of nursing home abuse victims, our team of specialists is prepared to fight your case through to trial. We have an excellent track record that includes significant rewards for Negligence, Elder Abuse, and Violation of Patients’ Rights. Our priority, first and foremost, is to bring peace of mind to victims of elder abuse and their families. Once we have accepted your case, there is no cost to you or your family until a just resolution has been reached. If your loved one has fallen victim to the many abuses that are rampant in skilled nursing facilities today, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.