Warning after feeding tube deaths

NHS staff are being warned about the risks of feeding tubes after two patients died when they were inserted into their lungs.

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NHS staff have been warned about the correct placement of feeding tubes after two patients died

NHS staff are being warned about the risks of feeding tubes after two patients died when they were inserted into their lungs.

An alert from NHS England says doctors and nurses must ensure they carry out a pH test or X-ray to make sure the feeding tubes are placed properly.

In recent incidents, two patients suffered after food was fed into their respiratory tract by mistake. Both patients have since died.

Two similar incidents were also reported in 2010.

In one of the latest cases, a placement device was used to put the feeding tube into the patient.

"When the night shift arrived, the patient started regurgitating, the feed was switched off, and when the patient was suctioned it seemed there was feed coming up from the lungs," a report into what happened said.

"About 200mls was aspirated. An X-ray was done which showed the tube to be in the left bronchus."

The safety alert issued today added: "There have been no reported issues with the functioning of these placement devices which, when used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions, may help reduce the risk of tube misplacement compared to traditional unguided insertion.

"However, it is vital that even when using such placement devices, staff also continue to adhere to previous National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) guidance and perform pH or X-ray testing to confirm gastric placement after initial insertion."