View Entire Collection
By Clinical Topic
By State Requirement
Diabetes – Summer 2012
Future of Nursing Initiative
Heart Failure - Fall 2011
Influenza - Winter 2011
Nursing Ethics - Fall 2011
Trauma - Fall 2010
Traumatic Brain Injury - Fall 2010
Fluids & Electrolytes
For my patient who has a nasogastric (NG) tube, the health care provider wrote an order that reads, "flush NG tube p.r.n." She didn't specify what solution to use. Is water acceptable, or should I stick to 0.9% sodium chloride solution?-N.R., TEX.
As a general rule, an NG tube should be flushed every 4 to 6 hours with either water or 0.9% sodium chloride to keep it patent. Document the amount, color, and type of NG tube drainage every 8 hours, according to policy or as otherwise directed.1
The order you describe is incomplete, however-it should specify the flush solution and the amount to use. In addition, "p.r.n." is too vague-as needed for what reason?
Contact the prescriber to clarify this order. Although water is generally acceptable for NG tube flushing, in this case she may have a reason to prefer 0.9% sodium chloride; for example, to minimize electrolyte loss through gastric drainage.
Also find out whether your facility has a policy and procedure for maintaining NG tubes. If an order directs you to flush "according to policy," you'd follow those guidelines.
For the safety of your patients, never try to guess what the prescriber means. If you have any questions, insist on a clarification.
1. Smeltzer SC, et al. Brunner Suddarth's Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing, 11th edition, Vol. 1. Philadelphia, Pa., Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2008. [Context Link]
Sign up for our free enewsletters to stay up-to-date in your area of practice - or take a look at an archive of prior issues
Join our CESaver program to earn up to 100 contact hours for only $34.95
Explore a world of online resources
Back to Top