Introduction: Dysphagia is common after acute stroke. Variability in predicting who will require a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) prior to discharge can prolong length of hospital stay (LOS) and increase costs.
Objectives: We propose a novel protocol to standardize speech therapy evaluation and G-tube recommendations among acute stroke patients with dysphagia to reduce LOS and costs.
Methods: A cohort of acute stroke patients with dysphagia was identified through an administrative data set using ICD-10 codes for ischemic stroke and CPT codes for speech therapy evaluation, and if applicable, CPT code for G-tube placement. Patients with tracheostomy, comfort care orders, or discharge to hospice were excluded. A multidisciplinary team from speech therapy, neurology, and radiology applied quality improvement principles to design and implement a G-tube indicator score (Figure 1) to address variability in dysphagia evaluation. Median LOS and duration from initial speech therapy evaluation to final diet recommendation were compared between the pre- and post-intervention period. Cost savings were calculated using LOS and average daily institutional bed cost.
Results: Between January 2016 to January 2017, 174/278 (62%) of acute stroke patients had dysphagia and 61/174 (35%) of these patients received G-tubes. Their median LOS was 21.7 days compared to 5 days for stroke patients without G-tube. In the post-implementation period from Feb-May 2017, 25/45 (55%) of acute stroke patients had dysphagia and 5/25 (20%) received G-tubes. Their median LOS was 16.4 days following the protocol implementation. This resulted in cost savings of $14,654 per G-tube patient.
Conclusions: This novel G-tube indicator score standardized speech therapy evaluation and reduced LOS by more than 5 days among acute stroke patients requiring G-tube prior to discharge. Future studies will prospectively validate the score. Increased adoption would result in significant cost savings.