October 16, 2010

Sleep Apnea and Hospitalization Part 1

If you have sleep apnea and use a positive airway pressure machine, are you aware of what to do when if you are admitted to a hospital, or if you have an outpatient surgical procedure where you will be put under? I admit I was not! So it was with great interest that I read the article here from the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA).

Not included as part of the above link are the procedures for those who use oral appliances. This is the reason for making sure the dentist that prescribed your oral appliance is included in the following discussion.

When using the term CPAP it will be in the generic sense meaning all types of Positive Airway Pressure devices for the treatment of sleep apnea, including CPAP, bi-level PAP, variable PAP, and auto-titrating PAP devices.

The ASAA makes several recommendations for us as patients to accomplish prior to being admitted and what to do once we are admitted. I am concerned that this is aimed only a those of us with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). So I will mention that this might will be considered by those with mild to moderate sleep apnea. It would be wise to consult with your doctor or dentist in charge of your sleep apnea to have their input in resolving any sleep apnea issues while undergoing medical procedures.

Know you patient rights to be properly treated for OSA and mild to moderate sleep apnea during all surgical procedures whether in a hospital setting or in an outpatient surgical center. This includes any same-day procedure that requires sedation or anesthesia, including but not limited to a colonoscopy or an angiogram.

You will need to determine whether you will be able to use your own CPAP equipment that is set to your prescribed pressure or whether the hospital or facility will supply an identical mask and/or identical or better equipment. You will also need to know whether you will be allowed to have humidification if you use this and whether there are any contraindications for its use. You will need to consult with your oral appliance prescriber for how to handle oral appliances.

To supplement the above, you, as the patient are required to notify your physicians and other caregivers that you have sleep apnea and what pressure the equipment must be set at. You will need to describe the therapy required and provide the contact information for your doctor or dentist so that they can provide the diagnosis information and prescribed pressure or equipment use.

Be prepared to provide your own clean mask and, if needed, your own CPAP machine. Be ready to label your equipment with your name and required identifying information. If possible meet with the surgeon and anesthesiologist to inform them that you have sleep apnea and require therapy.

Important! Make sure that your family, and if necessary friends, know that you are a sleep apnea patient and that they know you require the equipment. They should also know the parts of the equipment and how it is used for your sleep apnea treatment. Lastly, you should make sure that you have the information as part of your medical alert jewelry and on your wallet emergency information card so that medical emergency personnel will be able to take proper action for you.

Watch for Part 2

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