How to Prevent Infection Related to Tube Feeding

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
01/28/15  12:31 AM PST

Proper daily care can help to prevent gastrointestinal infection and skin infection around the feeding tube site.

  • Wash your hands every time you handle the tube site or formula and feeding supplies.
  • Use a new feeding bag daily or as instructed by your healthcare team. Between feedings, rinse the bag thoroughly with warm water.
  • Use a new syringe each day. If you use syringes for medication only, rinse with warm water and replace every other day or as instructed by your healthcare team.
  • For commercially-prepared formula, pour the amount into the bag that will be used within 12 hours.
  • When preparing powdered formula, follow mixing instructions from your healthcare professional or on the formula label carefully.
    • Prepare a single feeding whenever possible.
    • If making more than one feeding at a time, store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
    • Re-warm refrigerated formula in a container of warm water or in an approved bottle warmer. Do not use a microwave.
    • Transport prepared formula with ice packs and use within 2 hours.
    • Hang prepared formula in a feeding bag for no longer than 4 hours.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Keeping your mouth clean and moist may help prevent oral bacteria from migrating down the airway and causing pneumonia.
    • Floss and brush with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste at least once daily.
    • Wipe the inside of your mouth with a clean, damp washcloth or mouth swab.
    • Avoid alcohol-containing mouthwashes, as these can be drying.
  • Refrigerate leftover formula and discard after 24 hours.
  • Ask your healthcare professional if you should use purified or sterile water for tube feeding.

This information is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare professional for questions about your feeding tube.

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