November 17

How to Advocate for FEES in Your Facility Part 1: FEES Pays for Itself


This is the first in a three part series of how to advocate for FEES in your facility. If you would like a concise version you can present to your administrator, DOR, DON, or whoever else, drop your info in the comments below and I will send one your way. 

As you read the post below, please keep in mind that patient safety and quality of life of course is more important than money. I don’t want to make it sound like money spent or saved is more important than good quality care because it’s not. I also don’t want to make it sound like administrators care more about money than their residents. They don’t. The unfortunate truth is we do have to think about money with healthcare because there won’t be any care for the residents if the facility closes down. 

The number one question I am asked when I am talking to administrators is “How much does it cost?” Makes sense since they are responsible for keeping the doors open and employees paid. I like to respond by telling them that the real question is how much money can it SAVE your facility. So let’s get down to numbers.

Dysphagia is expensive. Studies show that if a patient has dysphagia, their average time spent in the hospital is longer and the overall cost is higher. Dysphagia is also the cause or a contributing cause of many re-hospitalizations which cost an average of around $30,000 (yikes). 

Thickened liquids or the thickener to make thickened liquids costs between $174 and $289 per month per patient. That’s $2,088 to $3468 each year just for liquids. The yearly cost for keeping a patient on a feeding tube is around $35,000. That doesn’t include the cost for the care provided by nursing. The cost of TPN (IV nutrition) is around $80 per day. 

Looking at these costs, it is clear that effective treatment of dysphagia is a lot more cost effective than any of the alternatives. If you are able to get rid of a feeding tube for one patient, this would more than pay for all of the FEES examinations for the year by a lot. 

It does cost money to pay SLP’s to treat dysphagia of course. However, early identification of dysphagia results in higher reimbursement for this care. If a FEES is completed in the first three days of an admission and dysphagia is diagnosed, the facility is able to receive an additional $122 per day in order to provide the care that the patient needs. So in a way, if you follow best practice and recommend a FEES for all patients with dysphagia, suspected dysphagia, or risk factors for dysphagia, the facility really isn’t out any additional money and in the end will most likely save a ton. 

Even if you are advocating for this service for your patients to someone that has no idea what dysphagia is, the numbers speak for themselves. 

Remember to drop your email below or send it to and I will send a guide your way! 

Next week will be part 2 of this series. Stay tuned and #ScopeOn


Advocacy, Dysphagia, FEES, SLP, Swallowing

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