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Updated Sleep Apnea Screening Recommended for Commercial Drivers

New recommendations released today by a joint task force of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), American College of Occupational// and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) offer an updated and consistent approach to the screening and management of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. Published as a supplement to the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, these recommendations include a more thorough screening and evaluation process, modified criteria for returning to work after treatment, and provide follow-up and recertification recommendations.

“Sleepiness and inattention contribute to a significant number of CMV crashes each year and OSA has been shown to significantly increase a driver's risk of driving drowsy. Yet, current CMV screening and treatment procedures for OSA are ambiguous and not reflective of the latest advancements in the diagnosis and management of OSA,” said Nancy Collop, MD, FCCP, Sleep Institute, American College of Chest Physicians. “Conflicting approaches to screening and management of OSA have left drivers undiagnosed, which puts the driver and general public at risk. We hope our joint recommendations will assist the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and states to update screening and treatment guidelines for sleep apnea which, in turn, may help identify and treat more CMV drivers who suffer from this serious condition.”

Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are based on a 1991 report sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration. Current FMCSA guidance for certification cites that drivers must have “no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with the ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle.”

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