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Should dysphagia patients have crushed medications?

2 February 2023

Last week on LinkedIn we read about a podcast created by Theresa Richard, an American Speech Pathologist and specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. It discusses medication and the issues for Speech Pathologists (Therapists).

Whilst it has been created for health care professionals, it will give you an insight into how they are trying to improve life for those with dysphagia that can’t swallow their pills. In summary…

It’s well-known Speech Therapists receive a continual flow of referrals when a patient can’t swallow their pills. Typically, the “work around” is to crush or split pills and capsules. However, there are several issues with this.

To name a few… crushing or splitting will affect the bioavailability (effectiveness) of the medication. Time release medication can’t be crushed. It changes the medication into an un-licensed product. If added to food, the food can affect the dissolution of medication, especially yoghurts, jams and ice creams due to their sugar content. Placing medication in foods then creates lots of legal issues.

Theresa doesn’t suggest Speech Therapists turn into the “Medication Police”, it’s more about combining the specialist knowledge of all members of the care team e.g. helping pharmacists understand the impact a patient’s dysphagia diagnosis has on their ability to swallow certain pills; pharmacists helping clinicians to understand the implications crushing and adding medication to food has on its effectiveness.

As a result, alternatives can be found that will ultimately help the patient. It may be switching slow-release medication for a quicker one taken more frequently, use our Pill-Eze: or, as a last resort, switch to a liquid version.

Please do try and listen to the podcast, it really is worth a listen and you listen to it by clicking on this link:

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