Swallowing problems or dysphagia is estimated to affect up to 15 million adults in the United States. Many sufferers are never appropriately diagnosed or treated, some living with serious consequences. Planning for effective management requires instrumental examination such as FEES (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing).
Symptoms can include: coughing/throat clearing while eating and drinking, difficulty chewing, difficulty propelling food from the front to back of the oral cavity, wet vocal quality, feeling of food or pills getting stuck, general feeling of difficulty swallowing, and frequent pneumonia.
The EAT-10 is a self-assessment that can provide patients with better language to identify and communicate what they are experiencing.
Studies have found that SLPs are over-diagnosing and restricting patient’s diets by almost 70% when using a basic bedside/clinical examination without instrumental visualization. This can result in reduced quality of life and increased expenses for patients and facilities. Overly restricted diets can sometimes be linked to dehydration, unnecessary feeding tube placement, and complicates the management of patients with CHF, URI, UTIs, etc.
The annual management of a patient on a feeding tube is estimated to be about $31,000. Thickened liquids are costly as well with the average annual expense of thickeners hovering between $2,000-$7,000.
Cost comparison of FEES vs. MBSS: When mobile FEES is not accessible, patients and facilities are subjected to the inefficiency and exorbitant cost of MBSS/VFSS at a hospital. Skilled Nursing Facilities pay on average $1,200-$2,000 for an MBSS/VFSS which entails transportation, radiology charges diagnostic charges, exposure to radiation, consumption of barium, and companion/CNA assist. Mobile FEES allows patient’s to stay in the comfort of the rooms or doctors office and receive real-time results for a fraction of the cost.
After graduating UCF’s master’s program, Suzanne completed additional advanced training in endoscopy for the assessment of swallowing and swallowing disorders. Suzanne’s mission is to increase accessibility to thorough and accurate testing for people with dysphagia.