What To Do if a Feeding Tube Comes Out

Caregiving May 02, 2022

How to Respond When a Feeding Tube Comes Out

Using a feeding tube is a normal part of everyday life for many people. However, it can require some troubleshooting from time to time. For example, it’s not uncommon for the tube to become dislodged and come out. This may happen accidentally as a result of coughing or various activities.

First, it’s important to understand the type of feeding tube that you or your loved one has so you know how to manage this situation appropriately, if needed. When a feeding tube becomes dislodged, migrates or gets pulled out, it can be an overwhelming and scary experience at first, but the most important thing is to stay calm and have an emergency plan in place, including contact information for your health care provider, to help resolve the issue safely and in a timely matter.

Tips for Troubleshooting

Short-term feeding tubes, like nasogastric (NG) or nasojejunal (NJ) tubes, are especially susceptible to removal, particularly in children, because they can cause slight discomfort. If dislodged, follow your healthcare practitioners’ protocol for replacement of the feeding tube. 

If a gastrostomy or jejunostomy feeding tube is dislodged or the balloon fails to stay inflated, stop the infusion of the formula.  Keep the tube in place and cover the area until a tube can be reinserted at the doctor’s office or emergency department.  Because the entrance site of the feeding tube can close up within a few hours, it is important to contact your doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency department in a timely manner.

Steps to Prevent Your Feeding Tube from Dislodging

Feeding tube dislodgement is common, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:

Discuss the comfort of your feeding tube with your health care provider, making sure to communicate any areas of discomfort that you are feeling.

  • Secure NG or NJ tubes to one’s cheeks with medical tape without causing any additional pressure.
  • Flush the feeding tube with water on a routine basis.
  • Check the feeding tube placement frequently.
  • Check balloon fill volume as per specific instructions.
  • Clean around the feeding tube site daily.
  • Notify your medical team immediately if you notice anything unusual or abnormal with the feeding tube site.

Bottom line, when a tube falls out, it’s important to stay calm and be prepared by having emergency contact numbers at hand. Notify your health care practitioner immediately to let them know about the situation and identify any necessary next steps that are needed to make sure the feeding tube is in the proper position and placement. 

  1. How-to's & Education on Tube Feeding | Nestlé Health Science USA (nestlehealthscience.us)
  2. https://www.Tubefed.com
  3. https://www.myamericannurse.com/recognize-prevent-troubleshoot-mechanical-complications-enteral-feeding-tubes/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093701/
  5. https://oley.org/page/ChoosingTheRightTube