FMCSA group eyes sleep apnea regs

| February 06, 2012

A second group of drivers – those with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) measurement greater than 20, who have reported experiencing excessive sleepiness during their major work period, day or night, or who have experienced a crash “associated with” falling asleep – would be denied the conditional certification.

A large amount of discretion would be given to individual health professionals in requiring drivers with BMI measurements lower than 35 to be tested and in issuing conditional certifications. “We focus on BMI as a mandatory factor,” said MRB member Brian Morris, associate corporate medical director for AllOne Health Resources. “If you set the bar high enough – 35 rather than 30 or 33 – you’re not burdening the system with getting a lot of people without sleep apnea caught up…”

The testing methods recommended as allowable by the committee were at-home polysomnography tests with verifiable chain of custody (to keep testers from faking the test) and an in-lab overnight polysomnographytest, designated as the most comprehensive and accurate. Costs for at-home tests, said Dr. Gurubhagavatula, are estimated at a third of in-lab tests.

The final recommendations from the subcommittee on acceptable areas of treatment put the most confidence for most sleep apnea sufferers in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, due to the ease of monitoring that is in place in current devices.

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