PURPOSE: Recent high profile cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), as in the case of former NFL player Reggie White, have raised its perception by the public. We studied our observation that most new consults were self or family referred. Additionally, we proposed that patients with daytime symptoms affecting their quality of life are more likely to seek a sleep specialist on their own.
METHODS: We conducted a simple survey of consecutive new patients referred to our Sleep Medicine clinic from September 2005 to February 2006. The data collected are part of a larger study on OSA currently ongoing at our institution. Patients were asked if they were recommended by a family member, a physician, or self-referred for evaluation. We also asked what the prominent symptoms were, either daytime or nighttime.
RESULTS: We screened 89 new consults in total. Overall, 37 (42%) patient were referred by family members, 38 (42%) were self-referred, and only 14 (16%) were referred by another physician. Of note, we found that 71% of patients with daytime symptoms self-referred, whereas only 34% of those with nighttime symptoms did so. 64 (72%) patients had a polysomnogram (PSG) performed within 6 weeks. The mean ESS score in daytime symptom patients vs. nighttime was 12.8 vs 8.9 (p=0.018). 95% had some degree of OSA.
CONCLUSION: Our small study reinforced our concept that most patients are seeking help for OSA on their own. Furthermore, we have shown that patients with daytime symptoms of OSA tend to have higher ESS scores compared to those with mostly nighttime symptoms, and are more likely to self refer. Additionally, our data indicates that most people who seek help for possible OSA do actually have some degree of this disease.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Most new consults for OSA were driven by the patient or a family member. Physicians can do more to screen for this now common disease. The public’s awareness of this troublesome disorder is a rising wave, and we should be at its crest.
DISCLOSURE: Dominic Valentino III, None.