28 AUG 2020 by Bob Floro, MS, RRT
We are all aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on our world today. This pandemic has brought our world society to a more complete understanding of infection control practices. As health care practitioners, we have the added responsibility to be continually diligent and protect both our patients as well as ourselves. Infection control has always been standard practice and primary focus of sleep technologists, along with the comfort of the patient and accuracy of the testing. But during these days of the global pandemic, to prevent spread of Coronavirus from patient to patient, patient to technologist, and (unfortunately) from technologist to patient, the focus on infection control has now become a heightened priority.
Guidelines are in place for consistent and effective hand sanitization of patient and medical staff, disinfection of equipment, beds, bed linens and furniture to prevent the transmission of germs, viruses and anything that would increase cases of infection. In addition, there are some general considerations that should be considered for each sleep facility when making decisions on their current guidelines.
- Keep up to date with local, state, federal and current CDC recommendations for healthcare providers. See the CDC’s webinar entitled: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update and Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations” or View CDC’s “Information for Healthcare Professionals” for up-to-date guidance, and check back often as new guidelines and standards are being added as the situation is continually evolving.
- All patients should be screened prior to any patient-technologist contact, which can include a patient interview by telephone, text or video conference. Screen patients again before entering the facility which can include taking the patient’s temperature, as well as assessing their risk factors during in patient registration.
- Utilize telemedicine with patients whenever possible, for consultation, reviewing and conveying results, developing a treatment plan and following up on patient’s progress.
- Ensure that all staff and employees are following current guidelines when in close contact with patients and ensure they have access to personal protective equipment or PPE (gloves, face mask, gown, hand sanitizer) when treating patients.
- If any of the facility’s staff are exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus, they should be instructed to stay home until they follow necessary facility-based guidelines, whether that includes COVID-19 testing or a period of isolation, before returning to work.
- Ensure all CPAP, HSAT and PSG Equipment is property disinfected according to CDC and manufacturer’s guidelines and instruct your patients on how to apply these practices at home. Click on the following links for two good examples:
- Keeping it clean: CPAP hygiene (Philips)
- How to clean your CPAP equipment (ResMed)
- The decision to cancel all sleep services and testing for an indefinite period should be decided based on several factors:
- Current CDC guidelines and recommendations
- Local and state health authorities
- The decision whether the diagnostic testing is considered non-essential based on patient’s risk factors.
If you are a Sleep Technologist in the United States or Canada and are in need of required CEU’s and wish to review up-to-date practices, consider accessing our website AACSM.org, click on the “CEU COURSES” and search for “Infection Control in Sleep Facilities”.
The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The American Academy of Cardiovascular Sleep Medicine.