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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 Mar;150(3):346-7. doi: 10.1177/0194599813514345. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

Management of obstructive sleep apnea in the indigent population: a deviation of standard of care?

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Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.


Comprehensive management of patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) typically is managed best via a multidisciplinary approach, involving otolaryngologists, sleep psychologists/psychiatrists, pulmonologists, neurologists, oral surgeons, and sleep trained dentists. By utilizing these resources, one could fashion a treatment individualized to the patient, giving rise to the holistic phrase of "personalized medicine." Unfortunately, in situations and environments with limited resources, the treatment options in an otolaryngologist's armamentarium are restricted--typically to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) versus sleep surgery. However, a recent patient encounter highlighted here shows how a hospital's reimbursement policy effectively dictated a patient's medical management to sleep surgery. This occurred although the current gold standard for the initial treatment of OSA is CPAP. Changing the course of medical/surgical management by selectively restricting funding is a cause of concern, especially when it promotes patients to choose a treatment option that is not considered the current standard of care.


CPAP; indigent; low-income; obstructive sleep apnea; uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

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