The good part about the growing awareness of sleep apnea related to new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules is that it will hopefully increase the number of drivers with sleep apnea who are getting treated. This will not only potentially save the lives of hundreds of people and avoid losses of millions of dollars in property damage each year, but it will save the lives of many truckers who do not realize they don’t have sleep apnea.
But no silver lining comes without a cloud, and in this case there may be a few of them. There’s the cost and trouble to truckers and trucking companies. Truckers believe they are being required to use CPAP to treat their sleep apnea. But the reality is that the FMCSA doesn’t have a treatment requirement. In a January 2015 Bulletin, the FMCSA says, “The Agency’s regulations and advisory criteria do not include recommendations for treatments for OSA and FMCSA believes the issue of treatment is best left to the treating healthcare professional and the driver.” If drivers feel they aren’t being given enough treatment options, the problem is their doctor, not the regulations. And this problem is only likely to increase now that companies without a good depth of experience and a broad knowledge base in the area are offering sleep studies as part of a larger package of services.
Sleep Apnea Testing Not Just Another Test
HireRight is offering its sleep apnea testing as part of its complete driver health screening “offering.” It is being offered alongside background checks, drug testing, alcohol testing, physicals, and other screening services.
The benefit of this for trucking companies is obvious: they can get their sleep apnea testing at the same place they already go for other basic screening of new drivers and/or annual physicals. The company has a large network of provider locations, so the trucking company can likely find one that’s convenient for the company headquarters or even the homes of their drivers.
A Commonly Offered “Benefit”
The primary selling point of their services, though, is the offering of the portable sleep test, which they say can be taken at home, hotel, or in the truck. What they don’t share is that many sleep physicians and their partners–like the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha–have been offering take-home sleep testing equipment for years.
It’s also unfortunate that the company represents sleep testing in a lab with full polysomnographic equipment as an unnecessary expense, because sometimes that is just what’s necessary to get an accurate measure of a person’s sleep apnea. Many people need a full polysomnographic study to determine the extent of their sleep apnea and recommend appropriate treatment.
We can only hope that trucking companies and their drivers will realize that low cost and convenience aren’t the only measures of a sleep apnea testing program, and that it’s important to work with an experienced doctor if they want to get a full understanding of their treatment options.
If you are a driver or trucking company in Omaha looking for an accurate diagnosis of sleep apnea by a sleep physician, please call (402) 493-4175 to talk to a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.