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8/29/2016 3:15:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Advisers Offer Sleep Apnea Guidelines as FMCSA Considers Health Proposal


This story appears in the Aug. 29 print edition of Transport Topics.

Top medical advisers to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have recommended a slate of sleep apnea guidelines that would require truck drivers to participate in costly diagnostic sleep studies if they have a body mass index of 40 or higher, experienced excessive fatigue or sleepiness while driving or have been in a sleep-related accident.

The FMCSA Medical Review Board issued its updated recommendations Aug. 22-23 to help the agency formulate a proposed rule that would offer clear guidelines for medical examiners to diagnose and treat moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Larry Minor, FMCSA’s associate administrator for policy, said last week that if the agency does issue a proposal, it would not come until sometime next year after a new presidential administration is in place.

The board’s other recommendation is that drivers at risk for apnea may be issued conditional 90-day medical certifications pending sleep study and treatment, if diagnosed with apnea.

In addition, the board said that a driver with a body mass index of from 33 to 40 should be required to take sleep studies if he or she has three of 11 factors: hypertension (treated or untreated); Type 2 diabetes (treated or untreated); a male neck size greater than 17 inches or female neck size greater than 15.5 inches; a history of stroke, coronary artery disease or arrhythmias; loud snoring; micrognathia or retrognathia (small or recessed jaw); witnessed apnea symptoms; hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid; untreated); age 42 and above; is male or post-menopausal female; or a Mallampati Scale score of class 3 or 4 (small airway).

Any driver diagnosed with sleep apnea after testing could not be given a medical certification of longer than one year, the board said.

Board member Brian Morris, corporate medical director for Quadrant Health Strategies Inc., voted to require four of the risk factors, but his objection was overruled in a 3-1 board vote.

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By Eric Miller
Staff Reporter

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