This document outlines initial recommendations for speech-language pathology management of adult patients with COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting.
The authors initially developed these recommendations by adapting those developed for physical therapists working with patients with COVID-19 by Thomas et al. (2020). The recommendations then underwent review by 14 speech-language pathologists and rehabilitation-focused academics representing seven countries (Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the United States). The authors consolidated and reviewed the feedback in order to decide what should be included or modified. Applicability to a global audience was intended throughout the document.
The authors had 100% agreement on the elements of the recommendations that needed to be changed/modified or added. The final document includes recommendations for speech-language pathology workforce planning and preparation, caseload management, service delivery and documentation, as well as recommendations for the selection of appropriate personal protective equipment and augmentative and alternative communication equipment in the acute care hospital setting.
Speech-language pathologists play a critical role in the assessment, management, and treatment of patients with COVID-19. Several important considerations need to be made in order to meet the needs of this unique patient population. As more is learned about the impact of the virus on swallowing and communication, the role of the speech-language pathologist on interdisciplinary care teams will remain paramount.