Background. Sleep disorders are common, but the frequency of sleep history documentation in hospitalized patients is unknown. Methods. We reviewed 442 initial histories and physical examinations recorded by 122 house officers and 47 medical students in 208 consecutive general medicine ward patients. Results. Any reference to sleep was recorded in only 18 patients (9%), including 12 of 141 (9%) with conditions associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep histories were recorded more often in women (13% vs 4%) and less often than histories of cigarette smoking or alcohol use. Medical students recorded such histories more often than did house officers. Patients with sleep histories more often had pulse oximetry (78% vs 37%), pulmonary function testing (11% vs 1%), arterial blood gas analysis (67% vs 30%), or electrocardiograms (78% vs 49%). Conclusions. Sleep histories are documented infrequently in hospitalized patients. Patients with a recorded sleep history more often have tests that suggest increased concerns about cardiorespiratory risk and/or a different process of care.
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