On June 3, 2010, the Virginia Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology made and passed a motion to create a policy on fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) which stated..."a speech-language pathologist cannot perform FEES unless properly trained and in the presence of a physician."
Quick to react, the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV), ASHA, and numerous concerned members called on the Board to hold public hearings and to revise this policy. The Board, under mounting pressure, agreed to hold a special meeting on August 11, 2010. Again, with all parties acting in concert, public testimony and written comments were provided establishing overwhelming evidence of the safe, independent performance of endoscopy by trained SLPs. The Virginia Board agreed with the evidence and immediately made a motion to revise the guidance document to state:
"It is the opinion of the Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology that a speech-language pathologist (SLP), who is specially trained, may perform FEES pursuant to a physician order and under the general supervision of a physician provided there are protocols in place for emergency response."
With fast action and great advocacy, Virginia SLPs can now breathe a sigh of relief and get back to the business of assessing and treating patients.
For further information, please contact Janice A. Brannon, ASHA's director of state special initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-296-5666.