Medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the US, according to recent estimates. Although it’s hard to say for sure, it’s likely that one of the most serious–and easily preventable–medical errors is a failure to treat sleep apnea among hospital patients. Now a new large study shows just how much of an impact this could have on the ability of people to recover with hospital care and not pass away under care.

Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea in the Hospital Improves Survival

A Large Study Reveals a Great Need

For this study, researchers screened more than 5000 hospitalized patients who were not known to have sleep apnea. Of these patients, more than 1400 were determined to be at high risk for sleep apnea, and were further screened. A total of 680 patients were given polysomnography with 585 having sleep apnea (almost 12% of the original sample). These patients were prescribed CPAP and followed after they left the hospital for an average of 609 days.

The results showed that those who were adherent to CPAP treatment had a statistically higher survival rate over the follow-up period.

This shows that getting sleep apnea treated after your hospital treatment can help you get better results from your procedure.

The Benefit and Shortcoming of CPAP

This study, like most studies on sleep apnea treatment, relied on CPAP as its only therapy option. This is good for many patients: those who are compliant with CPAP treatment can get great results for their sleep apnea. However, it’s not good for all patients. Many–usually most–people who attempt CPAP treatment for sleep apnea don’t actually stick with it long enough or consistently enough to get the needed health benefits.

This is why CPAP can fail people who need treatment, such as people with health problems like heart failure. Even the standard of compliance may not be enough to impact many serious health conditions.

Fortunately, there are other sleep apnea treatment options.  Oral appliances are as effective as CPAP and much easier to use and transport, making them something people are more likely to use at home and when traveling.

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting a treatment that you will actually use. If you don’t think you’ll use CPAP, or if you’ve tried it and it’s not working for you, we can help. Please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with a Denver sleep dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.