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Sterile water to flush feeding tubes?

Medications   (16,076 Views 15 Comments)
by nursesky nursesky (New Member) New Member

686 Visitors; 6 Posts

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Why do we use sterile water to flush feeding tubes such as the j-tube? What happens if we use normal saline instead? I understand that sterile water is hypotonic and fluid will shift into the cells. NS is isotonic. On another note, I learned to flush NG tubes with NS. Why is there a difference in flush solutions if we are still instilling both into the GI tract?

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CelticGoddess has 6 years experience.

1 Follower; 11,159 Visitors; 886 Posts

Policy at my facility is to use tap water. It is not going into a sterile field, it is going into the GI tract. Actually, I've never been taught to use sterile water or saline.

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Okami_CCRN has 4 years experience as a ASN, RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

13,987 Visitors; 789 Posts

I flush feeding tubes with tap water as the gut is not sterile, unless the patient is immuno-compromised. Occasionally surgeons will request an NS infusion through a J-tube/G-tube to maintain patency at arouns 20ml/hr for about 24 hours.

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23,440 Visitors; 3,726 Posts

Saline in the gut?

We use tap or bottled. (Home health). I'm not sure if some tap water can cause residue if too high in certain minerals.

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686 Visitors; 6 Posts

On the unit I am on for clinical, the policy is to use sterile water. Tap water does make sense to use since the GI tract is not sterile. But why do we use water (sterile or tap) to flush them? What happens if we use normal saline? That is my question.

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TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Case Management RN.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,867 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

But why do we use water (sterile or tap) to flush them? What happens if we use normal saline? That is my question.
Normal saline is isotonic...it has a similar composition to blood and is not appropriate for the GI tract due to lacking the osmotic gradient for proper absorption across the intestinal endothelium.

So, if the normal saline is flushed as one bolus (and it usually is), it will work like a saline laxative in the patient's system. Read: patient will have loose stools.

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8,057 Visitors; 739 Posts

Policy at one of the hospitals I did clinical at was that if it was new (

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®Nurse has 29 years experience and works as a Professor, CNL, Critical Care, Education, PACU.

16,093 Visitors; 1,019 Posts

This sounds like a perfect research into current Evidence Based Practice for gastric tube flush medium.

:)

A site like EBSCO, CINAHL, PubMed, etc., would be a great place to start.

Typically, it takes over a decade for current EBP to be incorporated into practice.

Be a leader, and find out from a few high level-of-evidence articles what the standard should be. :)

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BuckyBadgerRN has 4 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

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I've never used sterile water to flush a tube. We don't drink sterile water!

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BuckyBadgerRN has 4 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

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are you still in school? What do your instructors say, nursesky?

On the unit I am on for clinical, the policy is to use sterile water. Tap water does make sense to use since the GI tract is not sterile. But why do we use water (sterile or tap) to flush them? What happens if we use normal saline? That is my question.

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~PedsRN~ has 4 years experience and works as a Pediatric Nurse.

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Would you want to drink saline? :)

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