Respiratory, sleep groups go to battle

Friday, March 31, 2006

YARMOUTH, Maine - A spreading power struggle between respiratory therapy and sleep groups could have repercussions for HME providers who deal in therapies like CPAP.
There's currently debate in New York and other states about whether respiratory therapists (RTs) should be the only professionals allowed to perform diagnostic and therapeutic services in sleep labs--a move that would squeeze out polysomnographic technologists.
If the state limits who can perform sleep services, HME providers fear fewer patients with sleep-disordered breathing will be diagnosed, and consequently, fewer patients will be prescribed CPAPs.
"We want sleep labs operating at their full potential," said Don White, president of Associated Healthcare Systems in Amherst, N.Y.
National and state sleep groups are lobbying in several states to protect sleep techs through legislation, said Robert Peterson, a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) and author. The groups claimed victory in New Jersey late last year.
But the debate continues in other states. Some RTs believe they're better qualified to perform sleep services. Sleep technologists believe RTs are just trying to a get a larger share of the growing sleep market.
"Training is an issue," White said. "But it shouldn't matter if you're an RT or an EKG specialist. If you have the proper training, you should be able to do the work."