A patient with a nasogastric tube (NG) is complaining of abdominal pain and feeling full. The patient underwent a colon resection 2 days ago and states that the discomfort has been progressing. What should the nurse do first?

Assess patency of the NG tube.

Explanation

• When an NG tube is plugged and the stomach cannot be suctioned, contents may collect in the stomach causing discomfort and fullness.

• Checking the patient's vital signs can be done, but NG patency is a priority.

• Although the patient is at risk for post-surgical complications such as bleeding, the nurse should first assess the patient before notifying the physician.

• Auscultation of bowel sounds is not within the nursing assistant's scope of practice. Assessment is part of the nursing process and may not be delegated.

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