WASHINGTON, D.C. – The long push to get federal certainty in the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in transportation workers came a step closer last week. In a meeting with the staff of Rep. Anna Eshoo, Dr. Elliott J. Alpher asked for support in the efforts to get a dental sleep medicine expert appointed to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board.
This five-member panel of physicians sets the health and safety guidelines for truckers. The MRC also sets training standards for more than 5,000 certified medical examiners who perform physicals on truckers. Yet no member of the MRC has been trained in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.
Rep. Eshoo has long been a supporter of federal regulatory authority over the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea among transportation workers. In 2016, she hosted an educational session for members of Congress on the devastating effects of obstructive sleep apnea.
According to statistics from the ASBA, obstructive sleep disorders affect over 25 million Americans, and that number is on the rise. Current FMSCA Medical Review Board guidelines base a diagnosis on three criteria, while the American Sleep and Breathing Academy standard includes 14 scientific and medical points, including intraoral exams and measurements and allows for a home sleep study.
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