Objective: The demand for consultations and diagnostic studies for sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (SAHS) has increased, and this has led to considerable delays. We therefore need an updated evaluation of the diagnostic situation to serve as a management tool for specialists and health care administrations responsible for solving the problem. The objective of the present study was to carry out a descriptive analysis of the situation regarding the diagnosis of SAHS in Spanish hospitals.
Methods: We undertook a descriptive cross-sectional observational study. Public and private hospitals listed in the Ministry of Health's 2005 catalog of health care institutions were contacted, and those that routinely evaluate patients for SAHS were included in the study. The person in charge of each hospital filled in a questionnaire concerning the availability of resources and waiting periods for diagnosis.
Results: Of the 741 hospitals we contacted, 217 routinely evaluated patients for SAHS. In 88% of these, respiratory polygraphy (RP) (n=168) or polysomnography (PSG) (n=97) was available. The mean waiting period was 61 days for consultation and 224 days for RP. The mean number of RP systems was 0.99 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the recommended number is 3 per 100,000 inhabitants. The mean waiting period for PSG was 166 days. The mean number of PSG beds was 0.49 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the recommended number is 1 per 100,000.
Conclusions: We observed a marked inadequacy of resources that has led to unacceptable waiting periods. While there has been a favorable change in the situation regarding SAHS diagnosis compared to previous studies, there is still room for improvement and it is urgent that healt hcare authorities allocate more resources to this public health problem.