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Federal agency cancels plans for sleep apnea testing rule


Federal agency cancels plans for sleep apnea testing rule

Federal authorities are no longer pushing a proposed rule meant to establish specific criteria to screen truck drivers in South Carolina and across the United States for sleep apnea. On Aug. 4, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice saying that the potential rule will be withdrawn.

There is no clear standard about what combination of factors should prompt a driver to be studied for sleep apnea or what types of treatment should be required. There are several different screening protocols in use, and some drivers have claimed that there are unnecessary referrals being made in order for testing companies and device manufacturers to profit from the issue. Sleep apnea is a major concern for the trucking industry, because truck drivers with the sleep disorder can be dangerous on the road.

Because of the withdrawal, the current system will remain in place for now. Under one 2016 proposal for standard guidelines, up to 40 percent of truck drivers would be screened for sleep apnea. This kind of testing can be expensive. Some of the criteria proposed for sleep apnea screening have included having a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher as well as being male and over the age of 42. Some recommendations have also included testing for people with a BMI of 33 or higher. Currently, medical examiners are charged to refer drivers for testing if they have a reason to believe that a respiratory disorder could interfere with driver safety.

A truck driver suffering from sleep apnea can be just as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver. With vehicles as massive as a tractor-trailer or semi-truck, a trucking accident caused by truck driver fatigue can result in catastrophic injuries to people in other vehicles, and those who have been harmed might want to have a lawyer’s help when seeking compensation for their losses.