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DOT Decision to Withdraw Sleep Apnea Screening Puts Us All At Risk: ATS

Aug. 10, 2017 – The American Thoracic Society is extremely disappointed with the Department of Transportation’s decision to withdraw an advance notice of a proposed rule regarding screening commercial truck drivers and train engineers for sleep apnea.  Abundant evidence indicates that undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea is the root cause of many preventable fatal and non-fatal driving-related accidents.

Sleep apnea is a relatively common condition that, left untreated, can have short-term and long-term adverse health effects including daytime drowsiness, impaired decision making and reaction times, altered mood and development of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.  There are low cost tests to screen for sleep apnea and effective treatment options that reduce the risk of railway and highway accidents.

“By withdrawing this rule, under the guise of reducing regulatory burdens, our nation’s highways and rail systems are less safe and less reliable for us all,” said David Gozal, MD, MBA, immediate past-president of the ATS and a leading expert in sleep research.

“We strongly urge the Administration to reconsider its decision and to move forward with the rule-making process,” he added.