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Agreement of sleep specialists with registered nurses' sleep study orders in supervised clinical practice.

Donovan LM, Fernandes LA, Williams KM, Parsons EC, O'Hearn DJ, He K, McCall CA, Johnson KA, Kennedy MW, Syed AS, Thompson WH, Spece LJ, Feemster LC, Kirsh S, Au DH, Palen BN. Agreement of sleep specialists with registered nurses' sleep study orders in supervised clinical practice. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2020 Feb 15; 16(2):279-283.

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STUDY OBJECTIVES: Incorporating registered nurses (RN-level) into obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) management decisions has the potential to augment the workforce and improve patient access, but the appropriateness of such task-shifting in typical practice is unclear. METHODS: Our medical center piloted a nurse triage program for sleep medicine referrals. Using a sleep specialist-designed decision-making tool, nurses triaged patients referred for initial sleep studies to either home sleep apnea test (HSAT) or in-laboratory polysomnography (PSG). During the first 5 months of the program, specialists reviewed all nurse triages. We compared agreement between specialists and nurses. RESULTS: Of 280 consultations triaged by nurses, nurses deferred management decisions to sleep specialists in 6.1% (n = 17) of cases. Of the remaining 263 cases, there was 88% agreement between nurses and specialists (kappa 0.80, 95% confidence interval 0.74-0.87). In the 8.8% (n = 23) of cases where supervising specialists changed sleep study type, specialists changed from HSAT to PSG in 16 cases and from PSG to HSAT in 7. The most common indication for change in sleep study type was disagreement regarding OSA pretest probability (n = 14 of 23). Specialists changed test instructions in 3.0% (n = 8) of cases, with changes either related to the use of transcutaneous carbon dioxide monitoring (n = 4) or adaptive servo-ventilation (n = 4). CONCLUSIONS: More than 80% of sleep study triages by registered nurses in a supervised setting required no sleep specialist intervention. Future research should focus on how to integrate nurses into the sleep medicine workforce in a manner that maximizes efficiency while preserving or improving patient outcomes.

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