Treating hospital patients for sleep apnea can improve patient safety

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When hospital-based caregivers treat high-risk hospitalized patients for sleep apnea, it may reduce the frequency of emergency rescues, or rapid response events, for those patients, according to research published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers used a validated questionnaire to screen 2,590 obese patients admitted to a hospital for internal medicine, family medicine or cardiology services for disordered breathing. They found that patients with a high risk of sleep apnea experienced a rapid response event more frequently (43.06 per 1,000 admissions) than low-risk patients (25.91 per 1,000 admissions).

Then, when high-risk patients were compliant with positive airway pressure treatment, they had less rapid response events (16.99 per 1,000 admissions) than those who were noncompliant (53.40 per 1,000 admissions).

"The study suggests the important role of treating underlying sleep apnea to improve patient safety and quality in the hospital," said Sunil Sharma, MD, pulmonologist with Jefferson Sleep Disorder Center in Philadelphia. "We recommend a multi-centric prospective study to confirm these findings and determine the cost benefit of such [an] initiative to improve hospital patient safety."

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