The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has launched a new accreditation program for medical practices outside the field of sleep medicine that manage patients who have a high risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Currently, eligibility for the new Specialty Practice Accreditation program is limited to cardiology practices.
To earn accreditation, a cardiology practice must demonstrate that it screens patients for sleep apnea and provides diagnostic home sleep apnea tests according to AASM practice standards. The cardiology practice also must have an existing relationship with an AASM-accredited sleep facility that will provide full, in-lab sleep studies when needed along with other guidance to ensure high-quality sleep care for their patients. Accredited specialty practices will refer patients who require management of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder to a sleep facility for treatment and follow-up care.
“People who have severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” said AASM President Raman Malhotra, MD, in a statement. “By encouraging cardiologists to screen and test for sleep apnea, we can work together to reduce the burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea while enhancing both sleep health and heart health.”
Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea. Common warning signs include snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. It is estimated that 80% of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed, costing nearly $150 billion each year by increasing the risk of comorbid conditions, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and lost productivity. A scientific statement published last year by the American Heart Association acknowledged that sleep apnea is often underrecognized in cardiovascular practice even though it is prevalent in people with heart problems and contributes to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
The AASM has been accrediting sleep facilities since 1977, and AASM accreditation remains the gold standard by which the medical community and the public evaluate sleep care. There are more than 2,600 AASM-accredited sleep facilities across the U.S. Additionally, the AASM also offers accreditation programs for independent sleep practices and durable medical equipment suppliers.