The law disfavors the use of feeding tubes. They are to be used only as a last resort because they lead to a loss of functioning and can cause serious medical and psychological problems. If a resident is able to swallow and can get adequate nutrition by eating, no matter how long it takes, then no tube should be used. Lack of staff time is not a legally acceptable reason to utilize a feeding tube.
Only where there is the resident’s consent can a feeding tube be used and then only if there is a demonstrated medical need to prevent malnutrition or dehydration. Additionally, residents fed by tube must receive the appropriate treatment and services to prevent aspiration pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and other adverse symptoms. And if a feeding tube is being used, the nursing home must do what it can to help the resident take food by mouth again as soon as possible.