October 19, 2010

Sleep apnea and hospitalization Part 2

This part provides some issues you need to be aware of for treatment of sleep apnea in a hospital or out-patient setting whether for a surgical or other treatment. This is information I wished I have made myself aware of for past procedures. I will be ready for any future procedures.

Oral appliance users will need to consult with their prescriber for procedures to follow, but much of the following may apply. Just substitute oral appliance when CPAP is discussed.

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. When reading about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) please use the terms mild or moderate sleep apnea if applicable.

For all sleep apnea patients, knowledge is important to get proper care and treatment in the hospital or out-patient area. If at all possible - DO NOT LEAVE YOUR EQUIPMENT AT HOME. This is important in so many ways as sleep apnea therapy is as important in the hospital as it is at home.

If you do not inform your physicians or surgeon of your need for sleep apnea therapy
during and after medical procedures, this can create problems in healing and delay recovery time leading to longer hospital stays. Do not assume that the physicians and nurses will know how to manage your OSA. If they are not aware, they will not be prepared to care for OSA.

Please ask if you may use your own CPAP equipment. This will be when you will find out what the hospital policy says and you should talk to your doctor as well as your surgeon and the anesthesiologist if you are having surgery to confirm the hospital's policy. If they say no, then ask if they have a form called “Permission and Release for use of Outside Medical Equipment/Appliance for Patient Treatment” so that you may use your own equipment. At this time also ask if they will need a letter from your doctor or a consultation with your sleep doctor.

The only way you should accept the hospital's equipment is if clear that it has the same or better benefits as you equipment. If they cannot meet these requirements, you should be able to use your own equipment for your own well being and comfort. Always make every attempt to use your own mask to control leaks and for comfort.

If they allow your equipment, ask if they need to inspect the equipment to see that it is functioning correctly and does not pose any hazards. Ask when they want to inspect the equipment as you do not want to do this too far in advance.

Important - Label your equipment, CPAP carrying case, mask, and CPAP machine. When you are admitted, labels identifying you, and for your chart are printed. Be sure to ask for enough extras to label your equipment.

Again important, if supplemental oxygen is required, your mask may have ports for attaching an oxygen line. If your mask does not have oxygen ports, contact you equipment provider or the manufacturer to find out if an oxygen port adapter is available for your mask. Most of the time the hospital may have an adapter that will work with your mask.

If you are having surgery and will have a breathing tube inserted into your windpipe, your CPAP will not be required. After the tube is removed, you should be put on the CPAP machine. If you are not intubated, then remind the hospital staff that the CPAP need to be used.

Show your family and/or friends who will be visiting as well as the doctor and shift nurses how to use your equipment. Let them know and reinforce with them that if you are sedated or sleeping, your CPAP needs to be operating.

Normally while you are in what is termed pre-operation stage and being prepared by the nurse, your surgeon and anesthesiologist will stop by to discuss concerns and surgical plans. Do not forget to remind them that your CPAP needs to be in use at all times (if not intubated), and that they need to check your oxygen saturation and to monitor your heart rate.

Be ready if there are exceptions to any of the above when applied to your upper airway surgical procedures and if this should be cleared with the treating physicians and discussed with your sleep physician.

Good luck.

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