Skip to main content

Medication administration via enteral feeding tube: a survey of pharmacists’ knowledge


Background Medication administration to patients with an enteral feeding tube (EFT) is complex and prone to errors. Community pharmacists may be ideally placed to provide training and advice on this topic in individual patients as well as in institutions supplied by the pharmacy. Objective To assess community pharmacists’ knowledge on guideline recommendations regarding medication preparation and administration through EFT. Method Knowledge of guideline recommendations was assessed using a 15-item self-administered online questionnaire (April–June 2014). Questions reflected key aspects of guideline recommendations on medication administration via EFT. All graduated community pharmacists from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium were eligible for participation. Results A total of 105 community pharmacists completed the questionnaire. Median self-perceived knowledge of medication administration via EFT was 2 (on a 0–10 scale). On average 5.2 (SD 2.6) out of the 15 questions were answered correctly. Strikingly, the ability to select suspensions in a list of liquid medications and knowledge on crushability of solid dosage forms were low. Conclusion Our findings demonstrate that pharmacists’ knowledge on correct medication administration via EFT is too limited to be able to provide good advice to EFT patients or their caregivers. Tailored training on this topic is needed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Bankhead R, Boullata J, Brantley S, Corkins M, Guenter P, Krenitsky J et al. A.S.P.E.N. Enteral nutrition practice recommendations. J Parenter Enter Nutr. 2009;33:122–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    White R, Bradnam V. Handbook of drug administration via enteral feeding tubes. 2nd ed. Londen: Pharmaceutical Press; 2011. ISBN 978-0-85369-928-6.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3. [Internet]. Belgium: Belgian Centre for Pharmacotherapeutic Information [updated 2015 July; cited 2015 August].

  4. 4. [Internet]. Belgium: Flemish Association of Hospital Pharmacists [cited 2015 August].

  5. 5.

    Delphicare database [Internet]. Belgium: Belgian Pharmacists Association [updated 2015 June; cited 2015 August].

  6. 6.

    Dashti-Khavidaki S, Badri S, Eftekharzadeh SZ, Keshtkar A, Khalili H. The role of clinical pharmacist to improve medication administration through enteral feeding tubes by nurses. Int J Clin Pharm. 2012;34:757–64.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Joos E, Mehuys E, Van Bocxlaer J, Remon JP, Van Winckel M, Boussery K. Knowledge of staff members of residential care facilities for individuals with intellectual disability on medication administration via enteral feeding tube. 2015 (Forthcoming).

  8. 8.

    van den Bemt PMLA, Cusell MBI, Overbeeke PW, Trommelen M, van Dooren D, Ophorst WR, et al. Quality improvement of oral medication administration in patients with enteral feeding tubes. Qual Saf Health Care. 2006;15:44–7.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Idzinga JC, de Jong AL, van den Bemt PMLA. The effect of an intervention aimed at reducing errors when administering medication through enteral feeding tubes in an institution for individuals with intellectual disability. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2009;53:932–8.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors would like to thank the participating pharmacists.


This study was funded by Ghent University.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elke Joos.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Joos, E., Verbeke, S., Mehuys, E. et al. Medication administration via enteral feeding tube: a survey of pharmacists’ knowledge. Int J Clin Pharm 38, 10–15 (2016).

Download citation


  • Belgium
  • Enteral feeding tube
  • Knowledge
  • Medication administration
  • Pharmacist