Referral Patterns and Positive Airway Pressure Adherence upon Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Jonathon O. Russell, Jordan Gales, Charles Bae, Alan Kominsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition that adds to patient morbidity and mortality. Treatment with positive airway pressure (PAP) is the standard of care, but many patients refuse or do not tolerate PAP. Little is known about the subsequent management of these patients. We sought to understand what types of treatment, if any, adult patients with OSA receive who either fail or refuse PAP therapy within our institution. Study Design Retrospective chart review. Setting Academic hospital. Subjects All adult patients undergoing polysomnogram during the months of March and April 2010 (n = 1174) who were diagnosed with OSA. Methods The electronic medical record was reviewed to determine the subsequent management of patients with a diagnosis of OSA, including tolerance or failure of PAP and referral to specialists upon intolerance. Results Of 1174 patients, 616 met inclusion criteria. Ultimately, 260 (42%) had documented adherence to PAP. Of 241 untreated patients, 84 patients (35%) were referred for further attempts at management of diagnosed OSA. Nearly half of patients with diagnosed OSA did not have continued treatment or referral. Conclusion To our knowledge, this is the first study to define the subsequent management of patients who have failed or refused PAP. Despite the known sequelae of OSA, clinicians are not treating a significant percentage of patients with diagnosed OSA. Those who fail to tolerate PAP therapy are unlikely to be referred for additional treatment. Therapies other than PAP may be warranted in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adherence
  • failure
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • positive airway pressure
  • sleep surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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