Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS -- The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses recently awarded an AACN Impact Research Grant to Norma Metheny, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for research at Saint Louis University School of Nursing.

Norma Metheny, Ph.D.

Metheny will use the grant to study feeding-tube placement in infants, with the aim of developing a bedside protocol to quickly determine correct placement and significantly reduce the need for x-rays or other methods that expose patients to radiation.

Because of possible catastrophic results from an undetected feeding-tube in the lung, correct tube location is critical before initiating feedings. The findings from the study may provide much-needed guidance to clinicians who place feeding-tubes in infants, often blindly and without confirmation of correct placement.

The study will be conducted in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit. For the project, Metheny will collaborate with Kathleen Lynn Meert, M.D., chief of the hospital's division of critical care medicine and a frequent research partner. Their previous joint research projects include studying a variety of methods to test feeding tube placement in children and methods to assess for aspiration in children.

Metheny's earlier work to reduce complications in critically ill, tube-fed patients has improved patient care protocols and practice innovations. Her research has shaped national health guidelines for proper placement of feeding tubes in critically ill patients and has resulted in documentable changes in textbooks for medicine, nursing and nutrition.

For more than two decades, Metheny has written authoritative clinical nursing resources on fluid balance, feeding tubes and nutrition for a variety of publishers. Her seminal textbook "Fluid and Electrolyte Balance: Nursing Considerations" is in its fifth edition.

Her innovative research and clinical contributions have been recognized with a long list of honors and awards, including the 2006 AACN Distinguished Research Lecturer. She is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences, presenting at AACN's National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition beginning in 1976.

Founded in 1928, Saint Louis University School of Nursing has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research and clinical expertise.