New guidelines for truck drivers regarding sleep apnea screening have been created. The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and Medical Review Board approved the guidelines this past October. The ultimate authority to approve and put the guidelines into practice is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They are not expected to discuss them until after the new administration takes office. (1)
The sleep apnea guidelines would screen all truck drivers and decide which must undergo sleep tests for obstructive sleep apnea. The testing would be mandatory for drivers with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or over and have admitted fatigue or sleep during wakeful hours. Truck drivers that have been involved in a sleep-related accident in a motor vehicle would also be mandated to be tested. Testing might also be mandatory for drivers with a BMI of at least 33 and have at 3 or more of the 11 risk factors (other than excess weight) for sleep apnea.
The eleven risk factors for sleep apnea are:
- Neck circumference
- A narrowed airway
- Male gender
- Increased age
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Heart disorder diagnosis
- Use of narcotic pain medications
- History of a stroke (2)
A study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine estimated that 56,000 motor vehicle accidents a year can be attributed to untreated sleep apnea in the US. (3)
- Committee approves sleep apnea recommendations. 2016, HME News, Vol 22 (12), pg 16. Http://www.hmenews.com
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Sleep apnea. [Online] 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/risk-factors/con-20020286
- Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. Tulio de Mello, et al. 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4. PCM3634162.
Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH
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