Free Water Protocol

What is it?

Inpatients with dysphagia are allowed unrestricted water intake  prior to a meal, and again 30 minutes after a meal. The period of time following the meal allows spontaneous swallows and gravity to clear pooled solid or thickened liquid residues.

 The Free Water Protocol is based on several assumptions:

  • aspiration of water poses little risk to the patient if oral bacteria associated with the development of aspiration pneumonia can be minimized
  • allowing free water decreases the risk of dehydration
  • allowing free water increases patient compliance with swallowing precautions and improves patient quality of life
  • good oral hygiene is key ingredient of the water protocol and offers other benefits with regards to swallowing

Further reading:

Frazier Protocol

What are your thoughts?

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