Sleep specialists are ticked off that, looking for new revenue streams, an increasing number of primary care physicians and other non-Sleep certified MDs are hopping on the Sleep Medicine bandwagon. As patients, the question is whether we should care. The answer I think is yes.
The complaint of the Sleep specialists is that interpreting sleep studies and diagnosing sleep disorders takes a fair amount of skill and training. Now, if you've ever taken a gander at your raw sleep study data and tried to make sense of all those squiggly lines and chicken scratch, you'd appreciate that they probably have a point. The general practice MDs, they claim, don't know how to interpret the raw data, but rather simply rubber stamp whatever the sleep lab tech concluded about the sleep study in question. And sleep lab techs didn't go to medical school. The result, the specialists claim, is that unqualified doctors are being paid for doing nothing, and while the sleep lab and the unqualified physician win, the patient ultimately loses out. Now, I'm not close enough to any of this to know for sure whether this is just sour grapes on the part of sleep specialists facing increased competition, or if they truly have a point. But my hunch is that the sleep specialists are in the right on this one. Perhaps our industry insiders will be able to shed further light on the answer to this question.