Selecting the appropriate type of airflow sensor

Selection of the appropriate sensor for monitoring airflow has become an important decision for performing sleep studies. Some of the questions we need to answer before we submit our purchase order are: a) do I use disposable verses reusable; b) what is the cost per patient for the sensor; c) how long do the reusable last; d) what are the requirements for cleaning and disinfecting the sensor; e) what are the regulatory requirements for cleaning the sensor; f) do we have the time to clean each sensor after use to meet the regulatory requirements to meet infection control measures; g) how reliable of the sensors to provide a consistent signal of good quality; h) how comfortable are the sensors for our patients to tolerate wearing it all night; and i) with all these questions, why not just use disposable devices?

These are many of the questions we have to address when determining what sensor to interface with our PSG systems to monitor airflow. And cost is a major factor included in the decision.

Yet, the trend for using a disposable product is strong, since it reduces the nagging question of adherence with infection control standards posed by regulatory surveyors during an accreditation survey. Use of disposable sensors may appear to be the easier solution, yet many facilities are incorporating programs dedicated to sterilization of reusable expensive products in an effort to be responsible for the environment through going green.

The answer to selection of a monitoring sensor rests in the organization culture and the support services that are easily available for meeting infection control standards, the required documentation of the cleaning, and appropriate storage of the cleaned reusable devices. Today most facilities make the decision through calculating the per patient cost for the device. Plus if the sleep center is required to purchase the product under the facility buying contract, which includes a negotiated discount for use of the stocked product, the decision is automatic. Therefore, after one has conducted their analyses of these questions, generally cost becomes the prevailing factor for making the decision.

Kathryn Hansen BS CPC CPMA REEGT

Healthcare Consultant