Developing a dysphagia program in an acute care hospital: A needs assessment
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A needs assessment for a hospital-based dysphagia program was conducted to determine incidence, management procedures, and outcome for stroke patients with swallowing disorders. Using a chart review of 225 patients, it was found that 28% had documented evidence of dysphagia. When dysphagia co-occurred with stroke, significantly more functional problems and medical complications were reported, as well as increased need for dietary modifications and alternative feeding methods. The dysphagic patients were more often aphasic and dysarthric and less able to communicate. Mental status was more likely to be reduced and the need for staff supervision during mealtime was increased. Dysphagic patients had significantly longer hospital stays, thus increasing the cost of their care. At discharge, almost half of them continued to need feeding modifications, which may have delayed rehabilitation or transfer to facilities with other levels of care. The dysphagia group clearly displayed a wide range of clinical symptoms that would alert staff to their risk for medical complications because of swallowing problems. We believe that this needs assessment clearly showed that a multidisciplinary dysphagia management program has the potential to enhance patient care while decreasing the cost of health care delivery for the hospital.
Key wordsDysphagia, needs assessment Stroke Deglutition Deglutition disorders
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