Obstructive Sleep Apnea has become a big topic in the trucking world. There has been a lot of confusion surrounding sleep apnea. The DOT has no established rules regarding who should be tested. They suggest that Medical Examiners use best practice guidelines. Our current policy is to use an algorith that accounts for a driver's entire health history to determine if he/she needs to be tested. Weight, BMI and neck size are considered but are not individual factors used to determine if a driver needs to be tested (exception, a BMI > 40 does require testing).
Sleep Apnea testing can be expensive and time consuming. In the Billings area, my experience is that the entire process (getting scheduled to see a doctor, examination by a physician, schedule testing, sleep test, follow up with physician) takes about 2 months to complete. The cost for this often exceeds $2,000. And, if a driver is diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the driver has a mandatory 1 month waiting period before he/she can operate a commercial motor vehicle. During the waiting period, the driver must use the recomended machine (CPAP, Bi-PAP) 70% of the time to meet DOT regulations in order to receive a Medical Examiners Certificate.
MedWork Services has partnered with Interstate Sleep Apnea Solutions to provide cost-effective at-home sleep studies in a fraction of the time. If a driver is required to have a sleep test, Dr. Bowen will fill out all of the necessary referral paperwork and the driver is then contacted by Interstate Sleep Apnea Solutions. A home-test device is sent in the mail to the driver. The driver then sleeps at home or in the truck with the test unit attached. The driver then mails the test unit back to Interstate Sleep Apnea Solutions where a physician reviews the data and determines if the driver has Obstructive Sleep Apnea. All of the information is then forwarded to Dr. Bowen if the driver wishes. The cost is $250 and the process takes about 2 weeks if the driver sleeps with the test unit right away. The driver is still subject to the 1 month waiting period per DOT regulations if diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.