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Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2011 Mar;9(1):51-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-1609.2010.00200.x.

Implementation of the evidence review on best practice for confirming the correct placement of nasogastric tube in patients in an acute care hospital.

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Evidence Based Nursing Unit, National University Hospital, Singapore.



Nasogastric (NG) tube is a device passed through the gastrointestinal tract of patients for the purpose of feeding, gastric decompression and medication administration. However, a small risk involved in the process is that the tube may be misplaced into the trachea during insertion or may get displaced at a later stage, leading to disastrous results. Recent adverse incidences arising out of the misplacement of NG tube raised concerns among the nursing and medical community and the Patient Safety Officer of the hospital. The Evidence Based Nursing Unit, in collaboration with some of the key nursing leaders in nursing administration, was tasked to explore and institute the current best practice in confirming the correct placement of NG tube.


The aim of this project was to institute the best practice to confirm the correct placement of NG tube in patients in an acute care hospital setting.


The project comprised of a few stages. The first stage involved reviewing the existing recommendations and guidelines on the methods for checking correct NG tube placement. The second stage involved incorporation of the change of practice into the clinical setting. The final stage was to monitor and evaluate the impact of the new practice on the patients, nurses and other healthcare professionals.


Evidence search from guidelines and journals supported the test that used pH indicator instead of the litmus test. There is no evidence that supports the method of auscultation and bubbling to confirm correct NG tube placement in the absence of aspirate. Radiology remains the 'gold standard' for checking correct NG tube placement. The revised method of NG tube placement and workflow was incorporated in the revised Standard Operating Procedures. A total of 17 roadshows were conducted to create awareness regarding the new method amongst the nurses, and the implementation of the revised method and workflow was commenced on 3 November 2008. The initial audit conducted 1 month after the practice change was implemented reported 26 (50%) observations of NG tube feeding in 26 audit wards. The key areas of practice change in feeding when tube placement was confirmed (84.6%) and proper testing of aspirate (76.9%) showed good compliance.


The implementation of the change in the practice of confirming the correct placement of the NG tube in patients requires good coordination and a multidisciplinary team approach.

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