A GP guide to obstructive sleep apnoea

GPs are ideally placed to play a greater role in managing patients with sleep disorders, but there are multiple barriers.

Need to know:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common chronic condition that is associated with increased risk for multiple adverse effects, including traffic accidents.
  • OSA is often unrecognised and undiagnosed; this reflects, in part, a lack of sleep-specific training for primary care clinicians and contributes to significant health, economic and safety costs.1-4
  • GPs can use brief tools to identify patients who have a high pre-test probability for diagnosis of symptomatic moderate-to-severe OSA.
  • GPs can either directly order sleep studies if patients fulfil specific criteria or refer patients to sleep or respiratory specialists for diagnosis and management. The latter is appropriate for patients with severe comorbidities or suspected severe disease.
  • New clinical practice guidelines for management of OSA in primary care have been developed by the National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research (NCSHSR)