Have you heard? There will be new enteral connectors beginning this year. All extension sets, pump bags (feeding sets), venting bags, and syringes will have new ends, either male or female, that will screw together. This system, called ENFit, is designed to prevent accidental misconnections between enteral (feeding tube) devices and other medical devices, such as IVs, trachs, and oxygen tubing.
While change is always scary, and there are still many details that need to be worked out to make these connectors work seamlessly for all families, ENFit connectors have the potential to really improve things. Here’s how:
1. Your child’s nurse will never accidentally feed your kid her own urine through her NG tube. Or accidentally feed into his Foley catheter instead of his feeding tube. Yes, this has actually happened! Nurses and other caregivers sometimes screw up. Currently, the ends of feeding tubes and extension sets are similar to many other medical devices, such as Foleys, IVs, oxygen tubing, and suction catheters. Errors can happen easily, even at home. The ENFit connectors will prevent errors from occurring.
2. Your child’s medicine will no longer end up on the ceiling. You know that moment when the cap of the extension set pops open and medicine goes everywhere? That won’t happen anymore, because the syringes will screw right onto the extension set.
3. The idiotic school aide will no longer put your son’s seizure med into the balloon port instead of the feeding port. We’ve all had it happen—the clueless aide or even nurse who puts medication into the balloon inflation port. Because enteral syringes will all have the ENFit connector, and the balloon port will continue to require a luer syringe, it will not be possible to connect an enteral syringe to the balloon port.
4. You won’t draw up a med, only to realize you can’t give it because the syringe won’t fit in the feeding tube or extension. And no one will have to learn the difference between a luer tip, luer lock, oral tip, slip tip, or catheter tip. Only one type of syringe will work, the kind with the new ENFit connector. It will always fit.
5. You may actually save money! Currently, many families have to pay for syringes out-of-pocket, either because their insurance doesn’t cover them, or their equipment provider is too cheap to provide them. Since only new enteral syringes with the ENFit connector will work with the new extension sets and feeding tubes (without an adapter), you will no longer be able to use regular off-the-shelf syringes. It is likely that the new ENFit enteral syringes will be primarily available through equipment providers and pharmacies, making insurance coverage of these items much more likely.
6. You can mix and match different brands of feeding bags, venting bags, extension sets, and feeding tubes. Currently, some brands of NG and long tubes work better with certain extensions or feeding sets, because the connectors fit together better. Under the new system, all manufacturers will use the same male and female ends for all products, meaning all of them will fit together seamlessly, regardless of manufacturer.
7. You will still be able to baste a turkey, frost a cake, have a water gun fight, and make fancy pancakes. The new ENFit connections won’t limit all your crazy syringe adaptations at all! You will still be able to use your syringes in many creative and unique ways.
8. Three words: New Farrell Bags! Because all devices must be redesigned with the new ENFit connectors, many manufacturers are taking the opportunity to improve their products. The Farrell valve, made by Corpak, is just one example of a product that will be changing to accommodate the new connectors. We hope that many manufacturers will continue to take parent feedback and use this opportunity to improve their enteral devices. We may actually get much-needed items like dedicated enteral O-ring syringes and drainage bags.
9. In a few years, no one will ever say “I Fed the Bed” anymore. The new connectors screw together, making disconnection much less likely. No more Christmas trees slipping out of extension sets and feeding the bed!
10. Your child won’t die because someone accidental gave her G-tube med into her central line. Or accidentally ran the feeding set into the trach inflation port or the oxygen cannula. While this happens more commonly in hospitals, there are also children at home with both feeding tubes and central lines, or tubes and respiratory equipment. Tired parents and nurses sometimes make mistakes, and these new connectors will prevent them from making potentially fatal mistakes.
For more information, visit GEDSA or read a blog about the transition at Feeding Raya.