A nasogastric feed (NG) is a tube inserted through the nose, down the throat and into the stomach. It is used as a means to feed patients who are either unable to swallow, tolerate solid food or are unable to feed themselves. Liquid feed is fed direct into the stomach through the tube.

If the tube is incorrectly sited in the lung then the patient can either drown or suffer severe respiratory distress. Those who survive can be traumatised and left suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is not negligent to misplace the tube. It is however negligent not to spot that it is misplaced. The National patient safety agency (NPSA) publishes a list each year containing “never events”. Failure to spot a misplaced nasogastric feed is a NPSA never event.

The clinician (doctor or nurse) inserting the tube checks the using one of the following methods (or all);

  • taking aspirate (fluid) from the tube and checking the pH is lower than 5.5 using litmus paper,
  • checking the external length of the tube is not too long,
  • leaving the guide wire in place and performing a check x-ray.

Price Slater Gawne specialist medical negligence solicitors will help you recover compensation if you suffer injury as a result of a misplaced NG feed or if you lose a loved one because of a misplaced NG feed.

Case study

Price Slater Gawne represented the family of a patient who died following a misplaced NG feed. Whilst that patient was elderly and had underlying health problems, the failure to recognise that the NG tube was in the wrong position caused the patient to develop pneumonia which contributed to premature death.