According to the Joint Commission, dysphagia, which occurs in anywhere from 27% to 50% of stroke patients and often leads to aspiration, is a significant quality/safety indicator. As such, it is identified as a standard of performance when awarding disease-specific certification in stroke care. Application for this certification required one institution to assign a multidisciplinary process improvement team to develop and implement a dysphagia screening protocol to replace their current practice, which was being used on an inconsistent basis. This article outlines the steps necessary to identify and tailor a tool for dysphagia screening, develop a protocol to ensure appropriate use of said tool, and use a multiphase implementation process to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as create caregiver support for the practice change.
Lisa A. Flier, RN MSN, is an acute care nurse practitioner at Associated University Neurosurgeons, Illinois Neurological Institute at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria, IL.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Bobby A. Courtney, MA, at email@example.com. He is a JD/MPH candidate at the Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, IN.