Consequence of dysphagia in the hospitalized patient: impact on prognosis and hospital resources

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Aug;136(8):784-9. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2010.129.


Objective: To determine if comorbid dysphagia in all hospitalized patients has the potential to prolong hospital stay and increase morbidity. Dysphagia is increasingly prevalent with age and comorbid medical conditions. Our research group has previously shown that dysphagia is a bad prognostic indicator in patients with stroke.

Design: Analysis of national database.

Main outcome measures: The National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), 2005-2006, was evaluated for presence of dysphagia and the most common comorbid medical conditions. Patient demographics, associated disease, length of hospital stay, morbidity and mortality were also evaluated.

Results: There were over 77 million estimated hospital admissions in the period evaluated, of which 271,983 were associated with dysphagia. Dysphagia was most commonly associated with fluid or electrolyte disorder, esophageal disease, stroke, aspiration pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and congestive heart failure. The median number of hospitalization days for all patients with dysphagia was 4.04 compared with 2.40 days for those patients without dysphagia. Mortality increased substantially in patients with dysphagia associated with rehabilitation, intervertebral disk disorders, and heart diseases.

Conclusions: Dysphagia has a significant impact on hospital length of stay and is a bad prognostic indicator. Early recognition of dysphagia and intervention in the hospitalized patient is advised to reduce morbidity and length of hospital stay.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Comorbidity
  • Deglutition Disorders / complications*
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / mortality
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • United States