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Aspiration, Aspiration pneumonia, Gastroesophageal reflux



  1. Schallom, Marilyn MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS
  2. Orr, James PhD
  3. Metheny, Norma PhD, RN, FAAN
  4. Pierce, Janet DSN, APRN, CCRN


Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a common occurrence in critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients. Reflux can lead to pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents and subsequent pneumonia. Several characteristics of patients, interventions provided in the intensive care unit setting, and factors associated with feeding increase a patient's risk for reflux. Critical care nurses and clinical nurse specialists can identify patients at highest risk for GER by utilizing the patient's history, reviewing the medications, and assessing the current status to provide interventions to reduce the risk of GER and its sequelae of aspiration pneumonia. This article reviews the physiology of GER, risk factors, and interventions to decrease GER in the critically ill patient.