Education is Everything
As a sleep tech and a manager, I have learned that education is everything. The more information we give our patients, the more successful the study and (ultimately) their therapy will be. It is this part of the study that should really start at the doctor's office and continue all the way through the process.
In our lab, it starts with the call for the appointment. I call each patient and explain what to expect and the fact that there may be two studies depending on how the night goes. I explain that our rooms have queen-size beds and that we will attach some wires with paste and tape. I answer their questions from "How much will this cost?" to "What should I wear?" I also send out the packet with the questionnaire and all the directions I go over with them on the phone.
But once they walk into the lab you would think I had never spoken to them.
Many times, they have forgotten their pajamas. Or the best are the ones who explain they have to sleep in their underwear. We have hospital gowns for these patients. I explain that they really do not want to be videoed without clothes. That usually fixes the problem.
We show them the AASM video about sleep. After the video the only thing they seem to focus on is how big the mask is. How could they ever wear something that big? We go over mask choices then to calm them down. After seeing that, it is amazing how well-recieved one of the pillow systems is. Maybe that is why they show a full face mask in the video.
During the setup, it is more explaining and information-gathering. Sometimes I think I am a motor-mouth because I talk so much-- but this is essential to the study. Besides, I have the next 7 hours for silence.
If I do a good job, I can tell because the patient relaxes enough to do the study. On the nights I am quiet or when there is a language barrier (I took four years of Spanish and still can not speak a word of it), the tests start off with the patient much more restless.
Now, sending them home with educational material is harder than getting my son to do his homework. No matter what I say to them, they always leave behind the handouts on sleep hygiene, CPAP troubleshooting, and what happens after the study. I think it reminds them too much of school and studying. Maybe that is the problem with all the questions we ask before the study -- they feel like they are back in school and the joy of skipping homework is just too fun to not take advantage of.