Enteral Feeding
May 1, 2021

Keeping Enteral Feeding Systems Clean

The unique design of ENFit® connection systems helps to prevent harmful misconnections, but requires a little extra attention during the cleaning process.
The unique design of ENFit® connection systems helps to prevent harmful misconnections, but requires a little extra attention during the cleaning process.

ENFit® connection systems are designed specifically to eliminate opportunities for misconnections through the use of a unique locking mechanism that is only compatible with other ENFit® feeding tubes and products. One way that the ENFit® locking mechanism differs from legacy systems is that the male and female ports are reversed — the feed tube now has a male end, while the syringes and extension sets have female ends.

While this does a lot to prevent misconnections, it also requires some practical changes when it comes to keeping the enteral feeding systems clean and bacteria-free. Cleanliness is key to improving patient outcomes, and the ENFit® connection system must be cleaned in a very particular way to remain safe and effective. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Enteral Feeding System Best Practices Are Changing

Swapping the orientation of the male and female ports means that the design of nasogastric tubes used in enteral feeding systems now includes a “moat” that allows the male connector to lock when connected. The issue here is that the shape of the moat makes it easier for milk to accumulate, dry out, and sit, which, without proper cleaning, encourages the growth of bacteria and can lead to infection. Most facilities change out enteral supplies and feeding tubes every seven days, but that’s still plenty of time for bacteria to begin to form.

While some ENFit® products incorporate holes into the moat design to allow food to drip through, milk can still dry onto the sides of the gaps. A proper cleaning practice is necessary to keep these critical systems safe to use and to prevent bacteria build-up within the nasogastric tube and bed.

Tips for Keeping ENFit® Connectors Clean

Here are two simple changes to make that will significantly reduce your cleaning needs.

  1. Don’t overfill the syringe. Prevention, as the saying goes, is the best medicine. In this context, this means learning not to fill the syringe to the end of the tip. This helps eliminate opportunities for milk to spill into the moat.
  2. Bring the NGT to the syringe when filling. Because the male and female connectors are reversed on ENFit® products, they can be filled more cleanly by reversing how you fill them. Specifically: legacy systems are filled by bringing the syringe down to the end of the nasogastric tube, but when filling ENFit® products, bringing the end of the tube to an upright syringe is more efficient. The traditional method can easily cause milk to spill over into the moat of the male connectors.

However, some overflow or spillage is bound to happen. Kentec Medical offers reusable and one-time pediatric brushes designed specifically for cleaning male ENFit® connectors. Here’s a simple walkthrough for how to clean ENFit® products:

  1. Either wash your hands with soap and water or put on a pair of disposable gloves.
  2. Rinse the cleaning brush with water. Fill the ENFit® syringe.
  3. Using the bristles of the brush to block the center hole of the feeding port, vigorously flush the moat with water.
  4. Rotate the brush to clear debris from the moat.
  5. Rinse the feeding tube cap with clean water, then rotate the brush inside the cap to clean it.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 as needed until both the feeding port and cap are clean.
  7. Wipe down the feeding port and cap with gauze, then clean your supplies and allow them to air dry.

Cleaning the moats on ENFit® devices can be time-consuming, as every piece of food must be removed from the tube and cap before it can be returned to use. Specialized ENFit® cleaning tools, like the EnClean® single-use and reusable brushes that Kentec offers, can help you clean the nooks and crannies of the connector more easily.

Still, procurement managers will have to maintain an adequate inventory of cleaning kits for servicing each ENFit® product, which can further drive up costs. If finances are a concern, legacy safety oral products are tried-and-true, easier to clean (they don't have moats), and do not require any additional equipment.

ENFit® Products and Your NICU

At Kentec Medical, we take pride in delivering top-notch customer service because we believe that satisfied customers are better able to support and encourage improved health outcomes for NICU patients. To learn more about ENFit products and how Kentec Medical can help procurement managers stock them and legacy safety oral products, contact us today.

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