According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every ten babies in the United States is born preterm, and a significant number of those infants spend time in a NICU before they can go home with their parents. NICUs play a vital role in improving patient outcomes, but they’re also high-stress environments with many moving parts. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong. Enteral misconnections are a serious issue in the NICU, but NICU nurses and hospital staff can actively prevent them with the right enteral devices. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Misconnection and Why Are They So Dangerous?
Enteral misconnections occur when open enteral feeding systems are mistakenly connected to an incompatible, non-enteral system like an IV line or a dialysis catheter. If an enteral feeding tube is mistakenly connected to an IV tube, for instance, it can cause serious harm. In fact, analysis of medical studies found that misconnections led to patient death in at least 21 of 116 cases.
Misconnections are not an uncommon phenomenon. A 2006 survey found that 16.1 percent of US hospitals reported that enteral misconnections had occurred at their facility. Misconnections are an especially pernicious threat because many legacy tubing systems use one luer-slip or luer-lock connector to carry out multiple functions. At first glance, this seems more efficient, but using interchangeable luer connectors and adaptors across incompatible therapeutic systems has been shown to be “the major contributing factor” to NICU misconnections.
Misconnections differ from disconnections in that they are connections between unlike systems, rather than improperly fitted or easily dislodged connections. Disconnections can lead to wasted resources and patients not receiving adequate hydration, nutrients, or medication.
How Can ENFit® Products Help Prevent Misconnections?
ENFit® products are enteral devices and components that are compliant with the new ISO 80369 standards for enteral feeding systems. One key difference between ENFit® products and legacy products is that ENFit® enteral connectors are specifically engineered to only work with ENFit® feeding systems and components, which physically removes the opportunity for misconnections to occur. Furthermore, ENFit® products facilitate secure connections without the use of transitional adaptors, which are in the process of being phased out by GEDSA, and without the need for color-coded tubing. This means nurses don’t have to rely on sight to make the right connections.
ENFit® connection systems also help to minimize the risk of disconnections. Legacy luer slip tips create secure connections once pushed into the cap and turned 90 degrees, but if turned too far, the tip will become loose. The unique locking mechanism in ENFit® products not only prevents enteral misconnections but also helps to minimize disconnections, as well.
ENFit® Is the Future of Enteral Feeding
NICU patients are already in delicate health, and it behooves healthcare staff to eliminate opportunities for mistakes as much as they can to guarantee the best patient outcomes possible. Preventing misconnections in the NICU is possible, and ENFit® connectors offer a standardized and effective way to make sure babies safely receive the nutrients they need.
It’s up to procurement managers to begin the transition to ENFit® systems, but you don’t have to go it alone. When you partner with Kentec Medical, we’ll help guide you through the entire process. It’s our job (and our pleasure!) to offer best-in-class customer service that helps NICU staff provide patients with better experiences and better outcomes.