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
What are your thoughts?