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|New Connectors for Enteral Feeding Tubes|
New Connectors for Enteral Feeding Tubes
Tom Hancock, Executive Director, GEDSA
Later this year, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) will introduce new design standards for enteral feeding tube connectors. The Global Enteral Device Supplier Association (GEDSA), an international working group of enteral feeding tube manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers, will be introducing new enteral connectors that conform to these new ISO standards. The introduction of these new connectors is an important step to improve patient safety, because the current Luer connectors have a universal design, which allows for connections between devices that were not intended to connect (for example, feeding tube to a ventilator suction catheter; feeding tube to a tracheotomy tube; blood pressure monitor to an IV line, etc.).
While tubing misconnections are less of a concern for home use, the new, safer connectors will be introduced globally. They will be for use at home, as well as in institutions, so it is important to know about the change and understand how it will impact home enteral nutrition. The new global design standards ensure that all feeding tube and feeding/administration set manufacturers will use one standard design for the connector, and it will be universally adopted into practice.
The New Design
The new connector has a unique enteral-specific design that:
The new standards will impact syringes, as well as feeding tubes and feeding/administration sets. Enteral-specific syringes with the new standard female connector will be required to connect to feeding tubes with the new standard male connector for medication administration, flushing, and bolus feeding (see illustration).
The change comes as part of a larger initiative that will eventually introduce standards for connectors used in other applications, in addition to enteral nutrition. The initiative is designed to reduce tubing misconnections by making sure devices for different delivery systems are not compatible with each other. Tubing misconnections are rare, but when they do occur they can have damaging and even life-threatening outcomes.
Through our Stay Connected campaign, it is our goal that by the time the connectors reach the market, everyone who uses an enteral device is aware of the change, is prepared to transition to the safer connector, and can successfully adopt it.
Manufacturers have worked together to develop a plan for introducing the new connectors. Transition connectors, or "adapters,” will be introduced to allow new feeding/administration sets and syringes to connect to your existing g- and/or j-tube. Feeding/administration sets with these adapters will start to be distributed in the fourth quarter of 2014. This will minimize any disruption to consumers and allow you to use the feeding tubes and feeding/administration sets you have on hand.
The adapter will allow compatibility with your existing feeding tubes for the introduction period and help synchronize the introduction of the new connector system. Eventually, these adapters will be phased out as feeding/administration sets, syringes, and feeding tubes with the new connector all become readily available.
All major enteral device manufacturers are expected to comply with the new ISO standards to help ensure compatibility between feeding tubes and feeding/administration sets.
The Global Enteral Device Supplier Association (GEDSA) is a nonprofit trade association formed to introduce international standards for healthcare tubing connectors. Comprised of manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers worldwide, GEDSA facilitates information flow about the initiative, which is designed to increase patient safety and optimal delivery of enteral feeding by reducing the risk of tubing misconnections. GEDSA invites everyone to stay connected as the tubing connectors are introduced through a three-phase communications program—Aware, Prepare, and Adopt—to ensure a successful transition to safer connectors.
GEDSA partners with leading experts from the Joint Commission, AAMI, American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Premier Safety Institute, Novation, and the Oley Foundation.
The Stay Connected program is organized by GEDSA in partnership with leading industry organizations.
For more information, visit StayConnected2014.org.
LifelineLetter, January/February 2014