April 22, 2012

FMCSA to Adopt Sleep Apnea Guidelines

by Levin & Perconti

Earlier this week, a Chicago truck accident attorney at our office read a news report detailing new sleep apnea guidelines that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to implement into the trucking industry. TheTrucker.com reports that the recommendations were provided by two medical advisory bodies in February on the topic of obstructed sleep apnea in truck drivers.

The recommendations list a body mass index or BMI of 35 or great and an Apnea Hypopnea Index or AHI of 20 or more (moderate to severe sleep apnea) as being triggers for testing and treatment. Under the recommendations, treatment would consist of using a Positive Airway Pressure or a PAP machine. Our Chicago truck accident lawyer learned that the use of dental appliances to treat sleep apnea were “not approved alternatives at this time” by the medical advisory boards.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently revealed in a notice published in the Federal Register this is “proposes to adopt the recommendations as regulatory guidance after reviewing and evaluating comments received by the public.” It is reported that public comments must be received on or before 30 days from April 19, 2012.

Additional aspects of the recommendations include:
- A driver with a BMI of 35 or greater could be conditionally certified for 60 days pending a sleep study and treatment if diagnosed with OSA. Within 60 days, if the driver was compliant with treatment, he or she could get an additional 90-day certification.
- If, after 90 days the driver is still compliant with treatment he or she could get certification for a year depending on continued compliance.
- PAP compliance is defined as “at least” four hours a day of use on 70 percent of days with seven or more hours of daily use during sleep deemed “preferable.”
- A commercial driver with a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be certified if he or she has only mild to moderate OSA (an AHI of less or equal to 20) and if the driver “does not admit to experiencing excess sleepiness during the major wake period or the driver’s OSA is being effectively treated.”
- The AHI is used to measure the severity of sleep apnea and has to do with the number of times a night a person stops breathing.

Our Illinois truck accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti are pleased to learn that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been extensively working on recommendations and future regulations for truck driver sleep apnea. These recommendations are a positive step in the right direction for reducing potentially fatal accidents caused by issues related to a truck driver’s sleep apnea.