Patients with untreated OSA have a likelihood of postoperative complications including an increased incidence of difficult intubation, increased intensive care admissions, and longer hospital stays. Because it is estimated that most people with OSA are unaware that they have the disease, the new STOP screening may help prevent possible adverse effects of the disease on surgical patients.

The STOP questionnaire was found as highly accurate in recent studies. It is made of 4 yes/no questions; S: Do you snore loudly? T: Do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during daytime? O: Has anyone observed you stop breathing during sleep? P: Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?

An answer of “yes” to two or more of these questions ranks a surgical patient as at high risk for OSA.

How will surgery of patients who answer “yes” in the STOP test be affected? Francis Chung, MD, creator of the STOP test answers this obvious question: “Now we are conducting more research investigations on the topic. We hope that the evidence from our research will lead to the development of an overall care protocol for patients with OSA and the patients at high risk of having OSA.”

Two other methods, the 11-question Berlin Questionnaire and the American Society of Anesthesiologists Checklist, have also been validated as tools for screening surgical patients.