Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Sleep Center Operation and Treatment of Sleep Apnea in Korea: A Multi-Center Survey

This article was originally published here

Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Dec 23; 100 (51): e28461. doi: 10.1097 / MD.0000000000028461.


The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has not only changed the lives of people around the world, it has impacted all areas of the healthcare system, including sleep medicine. However, there are no studies in Korea that have looked at the status of domestic sleep centers and their challenges during the pandemic. An online survey was conducted from December 2020 to January 2021. Hospitals that belonged to sleep-related academic societies and were considered well-run were included in this survey. The questionnaire focused on changes in sleep center operations, infection control policies, and treatment since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine and future directions of sleep medicine services were also examined. Of the 20 sleeping centers that responded, 80% were in university hospitals with more than 500 inpatient beds. During the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea (November-December 2020), the routine sleep study room operating schedule was reduced in 30% of the sleep centers compared to November-December 2019 (before COVID-19). The number of type 1 polysomnographs performed decreased in 85% of the sleep centers. In contrast, positive airway pressure (PAP) titrations in the laboratory decreased by 40%, remained unchanged in 35%, and increased in 25%. In terms of prescriptions, 30% of sleep centers increased the number of prescriptions for auto-titrating continuous PAP. However, 60% of sleep centers reported that the rate of prescribing fixed continuous PAP and auto-titrating continuous PAP has not changed. All sleep centers that took part in this survey agreed that the need for documented regulations to protect against infection will persist even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic started, 30% of centers have tried telemedicine. However, respondents expressed concerns about telemedicine and cited a number of practical issues. Compared to countries where the COVID-19 pandemic was , Korea had less of the impact of COVID-19 on the operation of the sleep center and the treatment of sleep apnea. Infection and quality control in the sleep study room are important and inevitable issues and regulation within each facility is required. More and discussion is needed regarding telemedicine and home sleep apnea testing in Korea.

PMID: 34941202 | DOI: 10.1097 / MD.00000000000028461

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