SAN DIEGO (Dec. 20, 2012) Naval Medical Center San Diego’s (NMCSD) Sleep Lab director, Capt. Tony Han, instructs patients about obstructive sleep apnea disorder as well how to use the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, as Petty Officer 2nd Class Philip D. Dicataldo studies sleep report. Group consultations which consist of up to 10 patients have increased the Sleep Disorder Center’s throughput significantly and reduced wait times from three to six months to 10-14 days by issuing CPAP machines, increased CPAP education, and by helping patients review sleep study results. The Sleep Disorder Center pulmonary sleep lab has added more at-home studies, allowing staff to conduct approximately three times the amount of sleep studies compared to having patients’ evaluated in-house. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Pyoung K. Yi/HIPAA COMPLETE)
NMCSD conducts sleep studies to assist in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in active duty service members, military retirees, and beneficiaries.
OSA is a serious health condition that can go unrecognized for years. It is caused by repeated partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep leading to sleep fragmentation. When healthy sleep is interrupted in this way, it puts a strain on the heart and other vital organs which can lead to a number of serious health conditions.
“It can affect an active duty member’s work performance, or cause them to fall asleep at the wheel. It can also cause heart problems down the line,” said Capt. Tony Han, director of the Sleep Lab.
NMCSD’s Sleep Disorder Center can now complete an additional 200-250 studies per month through at-home studies, which were previously being referred to civilian hospitals. In October, NMCSD’s Sleep Disorder Center purchased 15 new home diagnostic monitors, costing approximately $13,000 each, tripling the amount of at-home studies conducted. Currently, the Sleep Disorder Center refers out less than 10 patients per month.
Patients are considered to be suffering from OSA if, after testing, they are found to have more than five breathing problems per hour during sleep according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
TRICARE eligible beneficiaries that are suspected of having OSA are referred to the Sleep Lab by their primary care manager.
NMCSD’s Sleep Disorder Lab offers treatment with positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which have been found to be the most effective treatment option for OSA. Secondary treatment options include an oral appliance, which is a retainer-like device used to keep open the patients’ airway during sleep or jaw-realignment surgery.
CPAP is issued after group patient education appointments, which is a novel approach. During group consultations, patients learn about OSA and how to use the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. Through the use of home testing and group sessions, Sleep Disorder Center’s throughput improved significantly and reduced wait times for issuing CPAP from three to six months to 10-14 days.
“The CPAP machine increases air pressure in a person’s airway, thereby allowing air to flow freely to and from the lungs,” said Han. “It also uses air pressure pulses to detect whether a person’s airway is blocked or not and can automatically adjust the pressure level to relieve the obstruction.”
Patients diagnosed with OSA are given the option of owning a CPAP machine to help them keep their airway open when sleeping. The machines are electrically powered and utilize water to provide humidified air to the patient. If patients choose to use the CPAP machines, they will usually need it throughout their lifetime.
For more information on Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd or www.facebook.com/nmcsd.