Elderly individuals account for one-third of all hospitalizations. The goal of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of dysphagia in elderly patients admitted to a tertiary care center. It also sought to investigate how dysphagia is identified, how it covaries with malnutrition and other conditions, and how it impacts hospital stay.
Case Series.
A retrospective chart review was performed. All patients >65 years admitted to a tertiary care center in January and February 2016 were included. Patients with primary psychiatric diagnoses and patients with upper aerodigestive tract malignancy or surgery were excluded.
A total of 655 patients were identified. Mean age was 76.6 years. Twenty-four percent (155 patients) had dysphagia while 43% (282 patients) had malnutrition. Thirteen percent (84 patients) had both dysphagia and malnutrition. Fifty percent of patients who had malnutrition were seen by speech language pathology (SLP). One hundred percent of malnourished patients that saw SLP were identified as having dysphagia. Three hundred and eighty-two patients (58%) were seen by the dietician but not by SLP. Multiple logistic regression indicated that the presence of dysphagia was positively associated with age, presence of malnutrition, admission to either cardiology or neurology service as compared to medicine service, and history of stroke.
One-quarter of elderly patients admitted to our tertiary care center had dysphagia. Dysphagia, especially when linked with malnutrition, has poorer outcomes and increased healthcare costs. Our data suggests a possible disconnect between malnutrition diagnosis and dysphagia identification. This is an important area of intervention that has the potential to improve the treatment and outcomes of these patients.
4 Laryngoscope, 2021.