How often have you gone to see a patient and she or her family tell you, “I heard I failed the video swallow study”?

There is something to this poor word choice and at times, I notice it is an epidemic slowly spreading and catching fire.

I find myself educating, educating, educating, non stop. I often debunk the words “pass/fail” by stating:  “This is not a test.” If you think about it: No one fails physical therapy. No one fails occupational therapy. No one fails an MRI or Ultrasound.

There’s somehow a huge gap between SLPs as clinicians who only “test” swallowing and clinicians who treat swallowing. I find it helpful to soften the storm before it gets out of control and say to the patient, “When I come to see you it is not to see if you are failing. No one fails in my therapy. I am coming to work with you so you can achieve your goals.” Maybe it just makes me feel better as a therapist, but it seems to be working.

Anyone have any different experiences or suggestions?


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