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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by long pauses in breathing over the course of a night’s sleep, leading to significant daytime fatigue and long-term pathologies if left untreated. While a sleep study is the diagnostic tool of choice for OSA, this test is costly. To maximize cost effectiveness, we developed a screening protocol to identify patients at high risk for OSA for referral for a sleep study.

To identify high risk individuals, we screen patients identified in the EMR with pre-existing risk factors of OSA. We contact them to complete the full screening test: the widely accepted STOP-Bang questionnaire. In our study, we are using the score of six or more to identify high risk individuals. If a patient scores six or higher following our contact, he/she/they are referred for a sleep study.

We are still gathering and analyzing data, but our current findings are very promising. We have found that the combination of poor patient response and the high score of six or greater has eliminated 91% of the starting patient population. However, every participant identified as high risk following our positive screening protocol (n=6) has been diagnosed with sleep apnea following their sleep study. While the study’s patient population is small (n=210) thus far, our findings are promising and support the usefulness of our new OSA screening protocol with the STOP-Bang questionnaire.