Dysphagia in stroke patients is well documented ranging from 22 -65%.Patients with dysphagia are three times more likely to develop pneumonia than stroke patients without dysphagia. Dysphagia in stroke patients has been associated with aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and infection and even death. A formal dysphagia protocol could save lives and prevent pneumonia.

Aspiration pneumonia has been identified as the second leading cause of death in stroke patients and lengthens the patientís stay in the hospital, leading to a higher cost for treatment. For Primary Stroke Center certification, The Joint Commission (TJC) previously required a dysphagia screen be conducted prior to any patient receiving any food, fluids or medication by mouth. While it acknowledged that the test does not need to be a formal evaluation by a speech language pathologist, it does need to be a standard method of swallowing assessment and documented.


A formal dysphagia protocol including a swallow assessment can decrease risk of pneumonia in stroke patients. Additionally, a validated screening tool is required. While various swallow screens have been reported in the literature for over 20 years, many of these screens were not developed for use by the nurse clinician. *Beginning in January 2010 the Joint Commission will no longer require primary stroke centers to report data regarding dysphasia screening for stroke performance measure 7 (STK-7) to maintain primary stroke center certification. However primary stroke centers will be required to follow clinical practice guidelines regarding dysphagia screening, monitor results and track patient outcomes.


The GLRSN has hosted various teleconferences about dysphagia screening.

Coming soon! GLRSN Swallow Screen Evaluation Checklist.

bulletSwallo Screen Presentation

bulletDysphagia Resource Guide

Patient Dysphagia Materials

bullet Swallowing Problems
bullet Easy Chew Foods
bullet Thickening Liquids