Standardising processes for Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS) clinics: Considerations at a profession and service-wide level

Ms Katrina Webster1, Ms Natasha Moller1

1West Moreton Hospital And Health Service, Ipswich, Australia

 

Aim: 1) To ensure VFSS procedures at Ipswich Hospital are conducted in line with best practice and optimise patient safety; 2) To ensure VFSS procedures are clinically informative to guide speech pathology management of oropharyngeal dysphagia; 3) To improve VFSS clinic processes by exploring opportunities for service efficiencies and utilise support staff

 

Method: A literature review, as well as consumer and stakeholder feedback, highlighted the need to review all aspects of the VFSS clinic. Benchmarking activities were conducted via a nation-wide survey of speech pathologists to understand current practices in VFSS clinics. Development of standardised procedures for competency attainment, triaging referrals, patient education, barium preparation, and Allied Health Assistant support was undertaken. Amendments to the VFSS protocol were conducted in line with literature, and engagement from Radiographers and Medical Physicists. In-services and regular stakeholder meetings involving speech pathology and medical imaging staff was undertaken to ensure ongoing refinement of processes.

 

Results: The implementation of standardised processes for VFSS clinic has resulted in improved confidence and communication for speech pathologists and radiographers involved in VFSS. Speech pathologists have improved consistency of practice, knowledge about VFSS evidence based practice, and have improved clinical judgements about swallow physiology. Patients receive reduced radiation dosage during VFSS procedures and report satisfaction with the Ipswich Hospital VFSS clinic.

 

Significance of the findings to allied health: Significant variation exists across facilities in regards to VFSS clinic provision. This activity highlights the need for improved practices and processes Australia-wide.