Earlier this month the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that a recent study funded by the AHRQ revealed that very few primary care clinicians (PCCs) routinely screen for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  The study gathered information from 44 randomly selected practices in five regional, practice-based research networks. 

The study found that only 10 of the 44 PCCs (23 percent) who were interviewed said that they routinely screen patients for OSA.  Only 14 of the 45 PCCs could identify 25 patients in their practices with OSA despite using multiple methods and having three months to do so.  One PCC admitted to never having identified a patient with OSA, and four practices could not identify a single patient with a known diagnosis of OSA.

Results also suggest that nearly all patients who regularly visit PCCs have sleep-related symptoms, and 30 to 40 percent of patients who see their PCC regularly are at high risk for OSA. However, only 20 percent of them spontaneously report their sleep symptoms to their PCC.  As a result, sleep symptoms are documented in the medical record of less than a third of patients.