Tubing Safety Resources
California hospitals want to protect patients by avoiding tubing misconnections. State law asks that they do so by using connectors that are specific to intravenous, enteral feeding or epidural lines, rather than connectors that are multi-purpose.
One such design is known as ENFit. It does stop tubing misconnections, which could otherwise cause medication, nutrition or other fluids to be delivered to the wrong place in an infant’s body. But some hospitals and health care providers have concerns about the ENFit design.
Hospitals advised to abandon their tubing system may have been misled – news that could come as a relief to parents and health care providers of premature infants.
The trade organization for manufacturers of tubing systems used to deliver nutrition, medicine or fluids to patients recently informed hospitals that their existing devices would be “phase[d] out” starting July 1, 2020. The organization’s statement explained that the phase-out would make way for a new series of tubing connectors known as ENFit. The change in technology, the trade organization noted, was meant to “comply” with regulatory guidance and to increase patient safety.
A new study suggests that an increasingly widespread hospital tubing system could be inaccurate—a dangerous finding for infants.
Tubes deliver food, medicine and blood or other liquids to tiny patients in neonatal intensive care. Mixing up the various tubes could lead to serious injury, even death. So in the mid-2000s, experts called for a new style of feeding tube connector to reduce tubing misconnections.
In response, the ENFit style connector debuted in 2014. Its “male” feeding tube connectors are only compatible with “female” syringe tubes. While the design reduces the likelihood of tubing mix ups, it ushered in a new issue.
According to researchers, the ENFit tubing connector “significantly increases the opportunity for inaccurate dosing.”
Hospital NICUs are getting an early Christmas present: the ability to opt out on tubing that could put their newborn patients at risk.
The Joint Commission, the nation’s foremost accreditation organization for health care programs, recently confirmed it will not endorse tubing connector technology known as ENFit. Hailed as a victory for infant safety, the decision comes in response to a letter from the National Coalition for Infant Health that outlined concerns about the ENFit design.
But, what is the ENFit tubing connector? And, why is this a victory for infant safety?
Robin Rogers was 35 weeks pregnant when she began to suffer from significant vomiting and dehydration. She was admitted to the hospital near her home in Kansas. To correct her fluid and nutrition levels, Robin had two tubes placed: one, a feeding tube; the other a PICC line, often used to draw blood or deliver antibiotics.
But when her tube feeding bag arrived on the hospital floor, there was a mistake.