The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) issued a joint open letter in response to the recent message from the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) that stated that the respiratory profession was “under attack” by polysomnographic legislation.
The letter, signed by Mary Susan Esther, MD, president of the AASM, and Jon Atkinson, RPSGT, president of the AAST, begins by clarifying, “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Association of Sleep Technologists do not have an agenda that in any way will restrict the practice of respiratory care. Our goal with this communication is to end the miscommunications surrounding the issue of certification and scope of practice for the respiratory therapist and sleep technologist professions. We look to participate in a reasonable and productive dialogue.”
The organizations agree about the need for state regulation of appropriately educated, competency-tested, and credentialed polysomnographic personnel. This agreement could serve as a solid basis for productive dialogue. The AASM/AAST letter states, “On the standard for appropriately educated, competency-tested and credentialed personnel performing sleep procedures, the AASM Accreditation Standards require that (beginning on July 1, 2009) a minimum of one sleep technologist must be certified by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT), or accepted by the BRPT to sit for its certification examination or an equivalent examination accepted by AASM. In addition, beginning on July 1, 2009, these standards require that all technologists and technicians conducting sleep testing who are not certified by the BRPT or other accepted certification body must be enrolled in or have completed the A-STEP Online Self Study Modules, or must be enrolled in a CAAHEP accredited sleep technology training program, electroneurodiagnostic (END) program, or respiratory therapy add-on track for sleep technology.”
The AASM and AAST letter goes on to describe the relationship between sleep technologists and respiratory care practitioners to a “Venn diagram,” where portions of each job overlap the other, while other aspects stand to be held separately by only one side. “Just as a sleep technologist does not have the knowledge or skills to perform all of the various duties of a respiratory therapist, an individual solely credentialed as a respiratory therapist does not have the expertise to prepare a patient for and administer sleep diagnostic studies. The AASM/AAST document ‘Scope of Practice for RPSGT’s and RT’s’ outlines where these scopes of practice overlap and where they differ,” states the letter.
The AASM and AAST hope that the letter will serve as a springboard to open dialogue with the AARC. The letter invites AARC leadership to join with the AASM/AAST to “work together to help ensure that the individuals providing sleep care are all competency tested and credentialed.”
Do you support the AASM/AAST position? How can the organizations best work together to help ensure that the individuals providing sleep care are all competency tested and credentialed? Join the discussion at Sleep Review’s Facebook page.