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Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2012;72:19-31. doi: 10.1159/000339977. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Identifying vulnerable patients: role of the EAT-10 and the multidisciplinary team for early intervention and comprehensive dysphagia care.

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  • 1Global Medical Affairs, Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition, Nestlé Health Science SA, Vevey, Switzerland.


There is underdiagnosis and low awareness of dysphagia despite that the condition is modifiable and poorly managed symptoms diminish psychological well-being and overall quality of life. Frontline clinicians are in a unique position to be alert to the high prevalence of swallowing difficulty among elderly, evaluate and identify those who need intervention, and assure that individuals receive appropriate care. Proper diagnosis and treatment of oral-pharyngeal dysphagia involves a multidisciplinary healthcare team effort and starts with systematic screening of at-risk patients. The presence of a medical condition such as acute stroke, head and neck cancer, head trauma, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, pneumonia or bronchitis is adequate basis for predicting high risk. Systematic screening of dysphagia and resulting malnutrition among at-risk older adults is justified in an effort to avoid pneumonia and is recommended by clinical practice guidelines. Systematic screening with a validated method (e.g. the 10-item Eating Assessment Tool, EAT-10) as part of a comprehensive care protocol enables multidisciplinary teams to more effectively manage the condition, reduce the economic and societal burden, and improve patient quality of life. In fact, care settings with a systematic dysphagia screening program attain significantly better patient outcomes including reduced cases of pneumonia (by 55%) and reduced hospital length of stay.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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