Q: I question the practice of turning tube feeding off while repositioning patients in bed. I understand that the purpose of this practice is to prevent aspiration. It seems to me that if the patient is going to aspirate gastric contents, it would be from what is already in their stomach, not from the small amount they would receive while being repositioned. I am also concerned about the decrease in nutritional support if the tube feeding is repeatedly turned off. Does any research support this practice?

A: Norma Metheny, RN, PhD, replies:

Although researchers have not directly addressed this topic, several studies provide relevant information that can be used to determine “best practice.” These studies, as well as risks and benefits of interrupted feedings, are discussed here.

As pointed out by the reader, the risk of interrupted feedings is inadequate delivery of calories (a serious problem because a poorly nourished...

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