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Ethics of SLP's being required to obtain vital health measurements with patients

Janet Brown, M.A.,CCC-SLP

July 7, 2003

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Question

Is it ethical for home health agencies to train and require SLPs to obtain vital signs during evaluation visits (ex. blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, height, weight, head circumference)?

Answer

ASHA's Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology does not specifically address the activities you describe. However, a 1997 ASHA position statement on ''Multiskilled Personnel'' (https://professional.asha.org/resources/DRVol4.cfm) describes basic patient-care skills as ... ''routine, frequently provided, easily trainable, low-risk procedures such as suctioning patients, monitoring vital signs, and transferring and positioning patients.'' The position statement says that ''Cross-training of basic patient care skills, professional nonclinical skills, and/or administrative skills is a reasonable option that clinical practitioners may need to consider depending on the service delivery setting, geographic location, patient/client population, and clinical workforce resources.''

Whether providing professional level services or basic patient-care skills, certified SLPs are ethically bound to ''...provide all services competently.'' (ASHA Code of Ethics, Principle I, Rule A). SLPs must be adequately trained so that they can demonstrate competence in performing the activity.

Although in most cases licensure laws are very broadly written and do not contain specific exclusions, you may also want to check with your state licensure board.

Links:
Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (2001)
Code of Ethics (2003)
https://professional.asha.org/resources/DRVol1.cfm

Position Statement on Multiskilled Personnel
https://professional.asha.org/resources/DRVol4.cfm

State Licensure Boards
www.ncsb.net

Janet Brown, MA CCC-SLP is Director of Health Care Services at the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). In that role, she provides consultation and resources to ASHA members and external groups on health care issues affecting speech-language pathologists. She also serves as ASHA's staff liaison to groups such as JCAHO and CARF. Previously, she worked as a research speech-language pathologist at the VA Medical Center and as a clinical supervisor at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC.


janet brown

Janet Brown, M.A.,CCC-SLP


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