Accreditation

Q&A: The importance of oral care

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, April 7, 2017

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In January, Trina Crow, RN, MJ, associate project director at The Joint Commission, wrote in a blog post that long-term care facilities need to pursue oral care policies more intently. While neither The Joint Commission nor CMS cite hospitals or critical access hospitals for oral care deficiencies, Crow writes that it’s still an essential part of care.

 “The statistics on this are alarming,” she wrote. “According to a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, on any given day, 84%–100% of [long-term care] residents don’t receive any oral care. Furthermore, only 27% of the long-term care organizations in the study had oral care supplies and the average tooth brushing duration was only 60 seconds. Many care providers didn’t even change their gloves between helping the resident use the restroom and brush teeth.”

Along with tooth and gum disease, poor oral care is linked to pneumonia and endocarditis (an infection of the heart's inner lining). Barbara Quinn, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, a clinical nurse specialist with Integrated Quality Services at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento (SMCS), and co-author of one of the few studies and articles on oral care programs and pneumonia prevention in hospital settings. Her research showed that by putting an oral care program in place, hospitals can prevent 40%–60% of non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NV-HAP), which accounts for 62% of all hospital-acquired pneumonia. 

 

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