Reducing the Unintended Dislodgement of Gastrostomy Tubes in a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital: A QA/QI Pilot Study

Jamil Shah, Abul Shahidullah, Stanlee Richards


Background: Since their introduction in 1980, gastrostomy tubes have become effective means of providing both short-term and long-term enteral access and nutritional support. These feeding tubes are ubiquitous in many health care facilities that care for the elderly, but carry high rates of unintended dislodgement - a complication that, if not detected promptly, is associated with substantial morbidity and health care costs. This study determined the dislodgment rate of gastrostomy tubes at 90 days in a cohort of 221 patients and tested the hypothesis that the implementation of a concise protocol to care for patients’ gastrostomy tubes would reduce these unintended dislodgements.

Methods: The dislodgment rate of gastrostomy tubes at 90 days in a cohort of 221 patients was determined. In addition, a randomized controlled trial was conducted in a long-term acute care hospital in which patients were alternately allocated to either of two geographically separate units: 1) a selected unit where a concise protocol to care for patients’ gastrostomy tubes was implemented, and 2) a separate unit where standard care was provided. Enrollment included patients diagnosed with dysphagia - who were receiving mechanical ventilatory support for chronic respiratory failure - who were being administered feedings, fluids and medications via a balloon gastrostomy tube. The primary endpoint was the number of unintended dislodgements of gastrostomy tubes during a 90-day study period.

Results: In a cohort of 221 patients with balloon gastrostomy tubes placed that was observed for a period of 90 days, 64 (29.0%) had unintended gastrostomy tube dislodgement (P < 0.028). A total of 34 patients were enrolled in the randomized controlled trial with 17 in the treatment group and 17 in the control group. All subjects were followed for a maximum of 90 days. During the study period, there was one episode of unintended gastrostomy tube dislodgement (5.9%) in the treatment group, compared with six episodes (35.3%) in the control group (P < 0.047) and the previous cohort of 221 patients (P < 0.028).

Conclusion: This study showed a significant reduction in dislodgements after implementation of a protocol that is an innovative, straightforward and economical solution to the problem of the unintended dislodgement of gastrostomy tubes.

Gastroenterol Res. 2018;11(5):369-373


Gastrostomy tubes; PEG tubes; Unintended dislodgement; Complications of gastrostomy tubes; Complications of PEG tubes

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Gastroenterology Research, bimonthly, ISSN 1918-2805 (print), 1918-2813 (online), published by Elmer Press Inc.        
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