Sleep Apnea Patient Care Needs Improvement
I am concerned and frustrated this week. I keep hoping to find that magical sweet spot between DME's and patients.
Our city has about 10 different DME companies and as you might expect, service can vary greatly. It can be a challenge to understand exactly what takes place at the DME. I know the patient is given RX for therapy and usually a copy of the sleep study to deliver to his vendor. But, frequently the RX is lost by the time he arrives at the vendor. We script for the mask and therapy but not a specific manufacturer for the CPAP machine. That choice is left up to the patient. My frustration is that quality of care, or maybe it's the continuity, is lost here. Patients return with poor fitting masks or masks they hate. Often they say they weren't given a variety of masks to choose from. They also come in knowing nothing about the CPAP machine they have. They are unable to tell me what pressure they're on, if they have a humidifier, or what type of machine they use.
The last PAP-NAP I conducted was for a businessman who was sleeping poorly. I was shocked to find how little he knew about his equipment and then even more shocked to find that he was using one of the better vendors in town.
Please don't misunderstand me, I am not attempting to place blame anywhere. I just am trying to understand. What does it take to get a patient involved in their care, to speak up if uncomfortable, to ask questions if they don't understand?
There is only so much time that can be spent on patient education in the sleep lab. Follow up and reinforced education have to occur at the vendor level. I know they are faced with time constraints as well. Still, with all the support that is available to sleep patients, ie; the lab, the vendor , the clinic, the support group, the websites, the follow-up appointments, and phone calls, it seems the level of knowledge the patient has is unacceptable. What else can we do?