, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 49-61
Date: 23 Jan 2010

Omission of Dysphagia Therapies in Hospital Discharge Communications

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Abstract

Despite the wide implementation of dysphagia therapies, it is unclear whether these therapies are successfully communicated beyond the inpatient setting. The aim of this study was to examine the rate of dysphagia recommendation omissions in hospital discharge summaries for high-risk subacute care (i.e., skilled nursing facility, rehabilitation, long-term care) populations. We performed a retrospective cohort study that included all stroke and hip fracture patients billed for inpatient dysphagia evaluations by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and discharged to subacute care from 2003 through 2005 from a single large academic medical center (N = 187). Dysphagia recommendations from final SLP hospital notes and from hospital (physician) discharge summaries were abstracted, coded, and compared for each patient. Recommendation categories included dietary (food and liquid), postural/compensatory techniques (e.g., chin tuck), rehabilitation (e.g., exercise), meal pacing (e.g., small bites), medication delivery (e.g., crush pills), and provider/supervision (e.g., 1-to-1 assist). Forty-five percent of discharge summaries omitted all SLP dysphagia recommendations. Forty-seven percent (88/186) of patients with SLP dietary recommendations, 82% (93/114) with postural, 100% (16/16) with rehabilitation, 90% (69/77) with meal pacing, 95% (21/22) with medication, and 79% (96/122) with provider/supervision recommendations had these recommendations completely omitted from their discharge summaries. Discharge summaries omitted all categories of SLP recommendations at notably high rates. Improved post-hospital communication strategies are needed for discharges to subacute care.

These data were previously presented at the 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, Chicago, IL, April 29–May 2, 2009.