Inpatient sleep medicine program serves as a growing model of care for other institutions

Sleep is important, and a new study directed by West Virginia University Department of Medicine researchers Robert Stansbury, M.D., and Christine Del Prado Rico, M.D., suggests that incorporating hospital-based sleep medicine to detect sleep deficiencies in previously undiagnosed patients can improve outcomes and even potentially keep them from being readmitted.

Current models of care for sleep-disordered breathing are predominately outpatient based. WVU offers an inpatient sleep program meant to diagnose patients affected by the disease early on, protecting them from the adverse health effects of untreated disease.

“A lot of data suggests that treatment of sleep apnea decreases hospital readmission rates, specifically in the COPD and heart failure groups, the two most common reasons for hospital admission,” says Stansbury, sleep medicine fellowship program director. “In order to achieve early diagnosis, our program centers around proactive screening and early recognition of sleep-disordered breathing.”

The program’s structure and outcome data have been published in the journal CHEST.

The sleep medicine program utilizes a multidisciplinary team including sleep specialists, sleep technologists, respiratory therapists, nurses, information technology professionals and discharge planners, as well as ambulatory sleep clinics and sleep laboratories.

According to Stansbury, bringing hospital-based sleep medicine to West Virginia was essential in order to meet the needs of a state with very low sleep metrics.

“After more than 2,500 evaluations, we are starting to see a lot of success with the program,” says Stansbury. “Hospital sleep medicine is a growing model of care with the potential to benefit many diverse communities.”

The program has been adapted from an original model, based in Philadelphia, developed by Sunil Sharma, M.D., chief of WVU’s Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine section.

“West Virginia is suffering from a ‘silent sleep epidemic.’ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates West Virginia is among the most sleep deprive states in the country.” says Sharma.

Data suggests that sleep apnea largely goes unrecognized in the state of West Virginia. WVU’s nationally recognized program, along with team efforts, allows the issue to be addressed head on by early recognition and management of sleep disordered breathing.

To learn more about the Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine section at WVU, visit