Auscultation of feeding tube


Auscultation of feeding tube

Auscultation is still used to check the position of a feeding tube often, although this ineffective and unsafe. Measuring the PH of the aspirate is a better and safer choice to ensure the correct position of a feeding tube.

An analysis among nurses, physicians and dieticians showed that auscultation (listening to internal sounds using a stethoscope) is an often used method to check whether a feeding tube is correctly inserted in the stomach instead of in the lungs. However, the guideline for feeding tubes recommends to check this position by retrieving aspirate from the tube and measuring its PH, or an X-thorax. Auscultation is limited in its effectiveness to correctly identify the position of the tube, and therefore unsafe. A feeding tube that is inserted in the lungs can lead to aspiration, pneumonia, pneumothorax, perforation, food intolerance, and even death.


The project leaders aim to reduce the use of auscultation of feeding tubes, by spreading knowledge amongst nurses on the department, and educate them using ‘bedside teaching’. The professionals of the ‘food team’ will become clinical leaders on this subject and will give feedback on the use of auscultation. Lastly, posters are used to remind nurses on the recommendations from the guideline.

“Changing traditional routines (“we have been doing this for 20 years”) is not easy for nurses.”


Start-up phase
Planned start:
Planned duration: 2 years

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Dr José Maessen

advisor person-centered care | Maastricht UMC+

Liesbeth de Boer-Beskers

nurse | Maastricht UMC+