Is Prescription required for CPAP, BiPAP and APAP devices?

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Sleep-apneas have become quite common among the older folks of this generation. All this leads people into believing that they can buy apnea treating machines like CPAP, BiPAP and APAP devices easily without fulfilling any requirement after they “diagnose” themselves of having sleep apnea.

In reality, all the equipment related to sleep-apnea treatment like airflow generators, humidifiers and facemasks are not locally sold. You need a doctor’s prescription if you want to get any of these. They are considered Class II Medical Devices. Although some materials like a connective hose and air filters can be easily bought.

Diagnosing and Prescribing

Sleep-apnea is a condition in which a person has a temporary loss of breath during their sleep. There are different types of apnea categorized as:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The most common type. In this condition, the airways are physically obstructed, restricting the breathing process. The reason is narrowing of the throat muscles due to relaxing or excessive fatty tissues.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSP): CSP condition means that the brain is no longer, sending signals properly to the muscles controlling breathing. This results in a restriction in airflow without any physical change.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSP): As the name suggests, MSP is a combination of OSA and CSP. Note that this case is very rare and is taken as a different condition.

Sleep apnea is treated through Positive Airway pressure (PAP) therapy. A generator draws air from the surrounding, pressurizes and humidifies it, finally delivering it via a connective hose and the PAP mask to the user.

To obtain a prescription, you need to be diagnosed with sleep-apnea by a doctor. This done either by Nocturnal Polysomnography or HST.

Nocturnal Polysomnography is processed, where the patient is monitored in certain areas of the body such. Breathing pattern, heart-rate, limb-movements, and blood oxygen levels are studied by a doctor during the patient’s sleep. In HST, however, the patient is sent home to conduct a self-test. Same details are measured here as well.

Regardless of who diagnoses your condition, a prescription can only be made by a certain group of people:

  • Medical physician
  • Physician’s assistant
  • Doctor of Osteopathy
  • Naturopathic physician
  • Nurse practitioner
  • M.D. psychiatrist
  • Dentist

Any other than these, your prescription will not be accepted, and you will not be given CPAP, BiPAP or APAP device.

Why a Prescription?

The PAP devices used to treat sleep apnea are complex equipment and need to be calibrated by a specialist for each. These specialists are board certified, and the setting is finalized after a patient has gone through medical exams and slept studies.

For your safety, you should never try to mess with the device’s settings. Sleep-apnea is not a self-remedied condition and should only be handled by a doctor. Wrong or inadequate machines can have adverse effects on the user and even worsen their condition. Each legitimate PAP prescription contains detailed information regarding the condition of the patient. The specific condition prescribed pressure rate(s) or range, dependent on the type of device needed and how long the treatment is proposed to be.

Medical insurance is not necessary for Class II Medical Devices used in PAP therapy. Even so, insurance providers as well need the prescription to cover the equipment cost.

Prescriptions Requirements

Prescribing any of the PAP devices requires a special criterion to be fulfilled.

CPAP devices: This machine delivers a continuous airflow at a steady rate throughout its use.

  • The device needed must be identified, in this case, as “CPAP” or “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine.”
  • Prescriber’s full name, contact info, and signature
  • Patient’s full name
  • Patient’s Specific sleep-apnea diagnosis (OSA, CSP, MSP)
  • Patient’s specific pressure setting

BiPAP Devices: BiPAP machines have the same purpose but deliver two distinct pressure settings, one each for inhaling (IPAP) and exhaling (EPAP).

  • The device needed must be identified, in this case, as “BiPAP” or “Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure.”
  • Prescriber’s full name, contact info, and signature
  • Patient’s full name
  • Patient’s Specific sleep-apnea diagnosis (OSA, CSP, MSP)
  • Patient’s specific IPAP and EPAP settings

APAP Devices: These machines provide the user with variable airflow in a certain range, depending on their breathing patterns during sleep.

  • The device needed must be identified, in this case, as “APAP,” “AutoPAP,” “Auto adjusting PAP.”
  • Prescriber’s full name, contact info, and signature
  • Patient’s full name
  • Patient’s Specific sleep-apnea diagnosis (OSA, CSP, MSP)
  • Patient’s specific pressure range.

It is human nature to experiment. But these very experiments can also cause harm without proper safety measures. Sleep apnea has become quite common sleep disorder. Even so, this does not work in the least means you should try to remedy yourself without help. Doctors are specialists who excel at this very work. And they worked to deliver their skill to the people for the greater cause. Besides some with study and experience is in an entirely different league than who relies on the internet (modern use) and assumptions alone.