How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea in Truck Drivers?
Is Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSAT) the solution for diagnosing truck drivers with sleep apnea?
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations found that almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.
The public has become increasingly aware that sleep apnea is is a major public health problem; however, many primary care physicians and (non-sleep) specialists are not aggressive in screening and testing for sleep apnea. While most are generally aware of the importance of treating sleep disorders, they are busy, have had little formal training in sleep medicine, and/or lack the credentials to perform or interpret sleep tests.
Some physicians do not order sleep tests when indicated as they may not be comfortable acting on the results. Low reimbursement, onerous record keeping, and prohibitions to providing CPAP are deterrents as well. Many non-sleep specialists refer to pulmonologists, who are busy with their practices and hospital work.
That is why home sleep apnea testing (HSAT) has become an increasingly popular option among employers and patients.
Although attended PSG (performed as an in-lab study) is the gold standards for diagnosing OSA, HSAT costs less than PSG and is flexible in many ways (can be performed in the driver's home, cab and almost everywhere). HSAT is a form of testing that has become increasingly popular among truck drivers. Since HSAT is an unattended study with limited channels, it's recommended that the appropriate protocols are in place to determine when further diagnostic testing is needed.
In the Journal Club article on HSAT and truck drivers, Dr. Rosenberg thoroughly discusses the recent findings on how to diagnose sleep apnea in truck drivers, which expands upon the discussion we just embarked on here.
Are you a truck driver who wants to know more about the consequences having sleep apnea might have on your job? Check out the FMCSA's FAQ section on what you can do to protect yourself once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.