Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Mattie Burton


A nutritional method commonly used to deliver feedings to premature infants is the use of a gavage tube. To measure for any undigested breastmilk or formula, a gastric aspirate is checked prior to the next feeding. There is a gap in practice as to what to do if these aspirates signify feeding intolerance. The project question centered on identifying evidence-based guidelines in the literature that would help to define best practices related to feeding intolerance of gavage-fed infants. The Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice model and the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation provided the frameworks for gathering and evaluating evidence as well as the process used in forming the practice guideline. The primary methods employed were a team approach that included a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Project Team and NICU expert opinion along with a literature review conducted by the doctor of nursing practice student. The NICU Project Team collected the NICU experts' input via surveys they developed and distributed as well as e-mails to authors identified from the literature review. The surveys yielded a 76% response rate from the registered nurses and a 59% response rate from the medical providers. All data collected were shared and descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the data. One of the central research findings was that gastric aspirates should no longer be routinely obtained on stable infants and, if used in evaluating feeding intolerance, they must be used in combination with other indicators. An enteral feeding guideline was developed to reflect this finding that can be shared with other NICUs and nurseries in the United States and globally to decrease the morbidity and mortality of neonates.

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