Date of Award

Fall 12-6-2021

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Sarah M.I. Cartwright

Second Advisor

Sandra Swearingen


Practice Problem: Patients diagnosed with non-mechanically ventilated aspiration pneumonia can result in increased levels of care, longer lengths of stay, and are 8.4 more likely to die while hospitalized. Oral hygiene protocols have led to promising outcomes, evidenced by fewer cases of aspiration pneumonia in adult patients on medical surgical units.

PICOT: The PICOT question that guided this project was in adult non-mechanically ventilated hospital patients, does an Oral Hygiene Protocol (OHP) compared to current practice affect hospital acquired aspiration pneumonia during hospitalization.

Evidence: Fourteen studies met inclusion criteria that support the implementation of an evidence – based oral hygiene protocol in adult patients on a medical surgical unit.

Intervention: Implementation of an OHP included education and training about enhanced oral hygiene and the direct correlation to hospital acquired aspiration pneumonia. Nursing staff were required to perform and document oral hygiene care at least once each shift in the electronic health record (EHR). The incident rates of aspiration pneumonia after hospitalization were obtained pre- and post-implementation.

Outcome: There were no case of non-mechanically ventilated aspiration pneumonia during the project period. The highest rates of compliance with documenting oral hygiene care by the nursing staff was during week one at 32% (n = 6) and week two at 5% (n = 1).

Conclusion: The results of this project may provide support for establishing enhanced oral hygiene care for adult patients on medical surgical units to decrease the incidence of non-mechanically ventilated aspiration pneumonia.


Scholarly project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.