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By: Jocelyn Zakri on January 15th, 2016

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The Fine Art of Sensor Reapplication

Sleep Technologist Advice


Learn the tips and tricks of sensor reapplication

Whether you have been working in sleep for one year or 20 years, chances are you have had to sneak into a patient’s room to re-stick or re-glue or re-tape a sensor at some point or another during a study.

Most of the time the need for fixing a sensor occurs right after the patient goes into supine REM after a full night of no REM or supine sleep. This also will most likely occur when your patient is sleeping prone on the sensor that needs reapplication. In either situation there is a right and wrong way in which to awaken your patient. In hopes of preventing embarrassing moments or awkwardness it is recommended to take note of the right way to do this.

Entering the Patient Room

Right way: Gently open the door careful to only let in just enough light from the exterior hall for fixing or even better (and some labs are cool enough to have these) wear one of those miner lights for precise reapplication.

Wrong way: Open the door too quickly and have it slam against the wall while tripping over the empty trash can or the patient’s shoes next to the bed. Not only is the latter an unpleasant way to be awakened, but also it may be cause for embarrassment on the part of the technologist.

Take home message: Move all trash cans and other trip hazards away from your walking path. Also be sure to acknowledge any uncharacteristic Incredible Hulk-like strength and learn to keep it in check while opening doors.

Waking a patient who is soundly asleep

Right way: If possible wait until they are in a good stretch of delta and sneak in and out without them even realizing you were there. (Note: this is where your Ninja training comes in.) You could also politely whisper the patient’s name while verbalizing what you are reapplying.

Wrong way: Poke them. Poking someone whom you do not know who is asleep is like poking a hibernating bear. It could get real ugly real fast.

Take home message: Re-up on your Ninja training classes.

Reapplication of the wayward sensor

Right way: Bring all the tools and equipment necessary for a solid replacement or reapplication. Have prep paste, applicator swabs, sticky paste, gauze and cloth tape all within arms-reach. If you are really good, you’ll already have the tape cut. You get bonus points for that.

Wrong way: You forget which sensor was the problem by the time you reach the patient room; then run in and out of the patient’s room 3-4 times for necessary supplies.

Take home message: Be prepared, it’s better to be swift than sweaty.

Most importantly remember that many patients probably don’t even want to be there sleeping in a lab setting. Their spouses or physicians have likely pushed them into having their sleep study and many will be anxious just being there. The thought of having sensors and wires all over them only elevates anxiety. Take whatever steps necessary to make their night as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The easiest way to achieve patient comfort is to project confidence and preparation. They may not verbalize it, but it is most appreciated.

Want to learn more about maximizing patient comfort? Get our CEC eligible fall course module on maximizing patient comfort here.

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