What’s your go-to mask? The T-2000 Vortex Full-Faceinator with antimatter-suction seal and cubic zirconia double banded headgear. “It’s never failed me once, bitch!”
I lick my chops at CEU conferences when sleep techs throw their arm up in the air and say a Full Face is their go-to mask. And I mean above all others. In the clinical setting, this shouldn’t be the case. I equate that to showing up at the doctor’s office with a tick on my head and the nurse rushes back with a guillotine. They are wrong on so many levels. The only reason, at first, to consider a Full Face mask for patients is nasal passage obstructions. If they don’t breathe with their nose related to abnormalities: deviated septum, broken nose, etc. Then and only then should you consider busting out Bane’s CPAP mask…
Who is Bane?
I’ve seen and heard, in the clinical setting time and time again, sleep techs spout that this is an acceptable starting point for first-night patients. As a technician, you should never go into a patient’s room and start with this. They leak like crazy and are more prone to leak like crazy over time when the patient gets home. Not to mention they’re more claustrophobic. They scare patients away. How do you know what a patient needs until a patient needs it? Dictating to patient their one and only therapy is a terrible idea.
Well, Mr. Big Blog Writing Tech Person, how do you know this? For one, only 20% of patients use Full Face masks. Depending on what data you read that number might be as high as the upper 20% range or as low as 15%. There’s a great statistical article posted on THE CPAPSHOP.
So, if any of this data is true, and let’s say 25% is the right number for argument sakes, why is a Full Face mask anyone’s go-to mask. At best, it’s a subset of a subset of go-to masks. And only because of you, the trained technician, figured out why they really needed it. Otherwise, you’re ignoring 75% of the market who prefers something smaller. Stop the next time you find yourself walking Jason’s hockey mask into a patient’s room and ask yourself why? It should be a bleeping good answer that applies to the patient. Not, it helps you have a better experience in the sleep lab during a titration night. Who should we be more concerned with? You, the technician, having an easy night or the patient experiencing a great introduction to therapy? Start by asking yourself what would you wear? Be truthful. It sure as heck isn’t the larger mask. The percentage of people looking at masks in a lineup would not point to a potential chum-bucket and start there. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but there are good reasons to start people on a Full Face and there are technicians’ reasons for starting them on a Full Face and never the twain shall meet. Do your patients a favor and give them more of an opportunity at success without steering them down a path they refuse to come near again.
For a lot of patients, no breadcrumbs get dropped along the trail to therapy. Yet, CPAP patients get lost on that walk every day and never find their way back. You owe them your time. Have some empathy. Start small and leave some breadcrumbs along the way. They need to know other options are out there. The last thing any patient should say is I couldn’t wear the big Darth Vader mask. So I quit. Well, that’s a problem, because more masks exist out there than a Full Face. Which means somebody did a terrible job at doing their bleeping job. Just because a patient tells you they breathe through their mouth at night shouldn’t be a qualifier for a Full Face without digging a little deeper into the why of that answer. Otherwise, you’re guessing. And I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Asked a patient, “Did you ever get to try on a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask?” Then hear a similar reply, “No, this was what they gave me. Are you telling me there’s something else?” I feel like the CPAP Whisperer when I tell them other things are out there. The shock is palpable.
Patients trust us too much. Maybe that’s a problem, but it’s one that’s fixable. So fix it. Do the right thing. There’s a 1oz NO LEAK and NO HEADGEAR mask coming soon and you owe it to your patients to share it’s out there.
If you love your CPAP unit, but think the mask is uncomfortable, contact us at Bleep. We may be able to help put the comfort back in your therapy or direct you to something that can give you a reason to resume it. We are the creators of Bleep – DreamPort Sleep Solution, an alternative to traditional CPAP masks. Visit us at bleepsleep.com and check out our Crowdfund initiative. We Give a Bleep About Sleep.