LHSC’s Clinical Neurological Sciences first in region to rollout a complete oral health assessment for inpatients


For Immediate Release

August 3 , 2012


(LONDON, Ontario) LHSC is the first hospital in the region to implement a tool to assess the acute care oral health of inpatients.

“Often times oral care assessment was being overlooked based on the acuity of the patient. Other issues were getting attention, while oral care was suffering, and often providing good oral care would help the patient’s quality of life immensely,” says Penney Letsos, Speech-Language Pathologist.

Clinical Neurological Sciences (CNS) at University Hospital, LHSC developed an oral care assessment tool out of their Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Council, a shared governance model established by Professional Scholarly Practice to empower front-line staff.

"The beauty of this innovative model of CQI councils is that we enable the people at the point of care, who have the specific knowledge of the issues and the solutions, to implement the changes necessary to increase the quality and safety of care delivery," says Dr. Vanessa Burkoski, Vice-President, Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive, LHSC.

Within 24 hours of being admitted, all CNS patients have a complete oral and dental assessment, including screening for signs and symptoms of dental disease, level of oral care needed, and appliance (i.e. denture) assessment. After assessment, the oral care needs are addressed either by the patient if capable, or with the assistance of the health care provider. This includes the cleaning of the teeth, tongue, palate, cheeks and lips, through brushing and/or flossing, mouthwash and suctioning.

"Our CNS patient population is vulnerable and the biggest risk for aspiration pneumonia is actually from the bacteria growing in their mouths. By cleaning their mouth properly, we reduce the risk substantially,” says Lynda Ryall-Henke, Clinical Educator, CNS.

“This kind of care and attention is fantastic,” says Dennis Hockey, 65-year-old CNS patient, who was admitted to LHSC after having difficulty swallowing and changes to his speech. Denise Martins, RN has been actively helping Hockey with good oral care daily, which is helping to reduce his risk for aspiration and improving his ability to communicate.

"We hope to have better outcomes down the road for our patients,” says Letsos.

This is only one of the over 96 initiatives that have grown out of CQI councils. The CQI committee will continue to document and review their assessment tool throughout the summer.


About London Health Sciences Centre

London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph’s Health Care London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca


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