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    The Medical Problem of Sleep Apnea in the Truck Driving Industry

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    The truck driving industry is an industry that is very important to the functionality of the united states. Not only does trucking and transportation promote economic values, it is one of America’s largest methods of delivery. The wellbeing of the truck drivers that construct this economy is vital to the complete success of the companies involved. To be a truck driver, an individual would have to possess a large level of endurance and stamina. These people must also understand that their sleep patterns are important to their success as truck drivers.

    In fact, “as the National Transportation Safety Board cites sleep apnea as a factor in New York City-area train crashes, the need for sleep apnea testing and treatment regulations will once again come to the forefront. The NTSB has been advocating for measures to reduce fatigue-related accidents in the transportation industry for years” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). Sleep apnea is responsible for several other sleeping disorders as well as many other health conditions. Recent studies have shown that sleep apnea could be linked to dementia in some cases. With all of these possibilities on the rise, many trucking companies find it necessary to set parameters for their truck drivers.

    However, “the decision to withdraw is baffling as the FMCSA made it clear that OSA remains a serious concern for trucking and that it intends to update the Medical Examiners Handbook to reflect the knowledge gained over the past 10-plus years. Drivers will continue to be referred for sleep tests but without an official rule, the industry remains confused on the subject” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). With further examination, it can be seen that the trucking industry has several issues to work out concerning the sleeping patterns of their drivers.

    Since sleep apnea causes sleep loss and restlessness, there can be some lasting effects caused by this health condition. This condition if commonly referred to as “snoring”, but sleep apnea is no laughing matter. Sleep apnea also causes sluggishness, and the reactions of an individual with sleep apnea can be repressed. Doctors agree that, “Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep” (Mayo Clinic). Truck drivers are liable to gaining this sleep disorder because of their long traveling hours and tight schedules.

    So many truck drivers continue to drive even though they are aware that they “snore” while they are asleep. So many truck drivers do not understand that “because sleep apnea affects your sleep, it also affects your daytime alertness and performance. Untreated sleep apnea can make it difficult for you to stay awake, focus your eyes, and react quickly while driving” (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). If a truck drivers career consists solely on driving long distances for days at a time, then it is every truck driver’s responsibility to check and see if they have or can develop sleep apnea.

    Generally, most truck drivers slip through the cracks between the rules that have been set in place to ensure their safety. For instance, “FMCSA regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea, they do prescribe that a person with a medical history or clinical diagnosis of any condition likely to interfere with their ability to drive safely cannot be medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce” (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

    Even though not all truck drivers have a medical history, sleep apnea is still a condition that is constantly being ignored by a majority of the trucking population. If truck drivers are truly responsible for their actions, they will make an effort to promote the idea of not driving long distances with sleep apnea.

    Many truck drivers will agree that their current standard for trucking safety is an adequate standard. Most truck driving companies are sanctioned under the government and specific regulations must be put in place. For instance, there are standards set by a trucking company that rest far below what should be considered standard, or “adequate”. However, there are quite a few safety rules and regulations that appear to be a lot less safe than the alternative options.

    In recent years, “some improvements have been made in initial evaluation, driven by changes in CME standards. However, the process for diagnosis and treatment delivery often is still all over the board” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). Because determining sleep apnea in a correlation with a person’s readiness is a difficult task to perform, not every diagnosis is an accurate diagnosis. Even so, the “standards of care remain variable regarding in-lab sleep studies versus home sleep apnea testing, the type of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy used, the use of maintenance of wakefulness testing and compliance monitoring” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). These studies appear to escape the hand of the companies that should be instructing truck drivers about person health and driving habits.

    However, when confronted about these issues on the job, trucks claim that their insurance provided doctors are not giving them accurate assessments about what is going on inside of their bodies. Even some trucking employers will agree that “the traditional health insurance approach does not often understand the needs of truckers” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). As of right now, the truck industry needs to reform it system into a more accurate and safe policy. For some companies, the option for insurance coverage is given to the employees. The employees who accept this coverage have a majority of their procedures paid for by their employer.

    Even though “insurance generally covers sleep apnea testing and treatment, drivers might not have access to resources that provide these services in a cost-effective and timely manner”” (Alan Lankford Ph.D). However, each insurance company is different and coverage options are subjective depending on the agency and their policies. Insurance companies can be confusing, because of the conditional aspects associated with each policy and procedure. In fact, “most people need help navigating co-pays and deductibles but drivers may also need to deal with scheduling and geographical logistics” ” (Alan Lankford Ph.D).

    Generally speaking, a person that has the most basic insurance can receive care for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Many truck drivers will not admit this fact because of the assumed confusion provided by the insurance companies. Overall, the insurance companies of a truck driving business will take decent care of their patients. Sleep apnea should not be an excuse for truck driving accidents and safety hazards.

    Sleep apnea is a health condition that can be treated much more easier than other sleeping disorders. These treatments can sometimes include medicine and other supplements that can be taken while on the road. As more sleep studies are conducted, more can be done to solve the issue of sleep apnea. Doctors claim that “sleep medicine is an AMA-recognized subspecialty with providers across the United States. Because it is relatively new, it may be the case that some physicians were not exposed to it during their training” (Alan Lankford Ph.D).

    This may be true, however a wide variety of studies have been taken since the genesis of “sleep-study”. The revelations found by the scientists involved in sleep study indicate several issues taken place in modern society. Recently,” when the Department of Transportation withdrew the proposed rule for OSA, it said that there wasn’t enough information to proceed. The data from scientific studies, the NTSB, the affected public and professional organizations are overwhelming. With this information amassed over many years, it’s clear that we need more action, not studies” (Alan Lankford Ph.D).

    The main issue is the safety of every individual that travels on the road for whatever reason. Truck drivers find it necessary to drive knowing that they have sleep apnea. Perhaps someday they will realize that they are endangering themselves and others by refusing treatment.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Medical Problem of Sleep Apnea in the Truck Driving Industry. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-medical-problem-of-sleep-apnea-in-the-truck-driving-industry/

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