New guideline will pave way for treating truckers

Friday, April 26, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine – Although the trucking industry was still awaiting guidelines for testing and treating sleep apnea at press time, CPAP providers who have begun delving into this market say they are ready.

“We have been talking to a few trucking companies to see if we can work out some testing and treatment programs,” said Eric Parkhill, vice president of HMP Diagnostics in Atlanta. “We have also had some case management groups who are looking to work with trucking companies ask us about our services.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to issue the guidelines soon. Once that happens, it could pave the way for an increase in truckers being tested for sleep apnea—and an increase in business for providers. 

Although they are just guidelines, they carry plenty of weight, say providers.

“All of the trucking companies are supposed to be aware of the guidelines and following the guidelines,” said Dana Voien, president of Laguna Nigel, Calif.-based SleepSafe Drivers. 

There are certainly incentives for following the guidelines, including reduced medical expenses for drivers, reduced driver turnover, and a reduced number of crashes.

That’s good news for providers, they say.

“We expect our business to expand,” said Voien. “Over a dozen fleets have told us that they will start proactive sleep programs once the guidelines are released.”

Even without guidelines, there has been an increase in the awareness of sleep apnea in truckers, say providers.

Aeroflow, which in January launched a sleep management program for truckers, has seen an influx of business from doctors that perform the required bi-annual physicals for drivers, as well as a willingness on the part of the drivers to be tested.

“A lot of drivers were under the impression that (sleep apnea) could cause them to be terminated,” said Curtis Collins, industrial accounts manager for the Asheville, N.C.-based Aeroflow. “We’re very (vocal) on saying that’s not the case, it’s very treatable. Most drivers respond very well.” HME