If you are a business owner, an HR Director, a newly hired employee, a union representative, or the spouse or friend of a company’s employee, then it is important to know how Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can affect a person’s life, health, productivity and safety.
Disasters such as…
-The Three Mile Island Meltdown – occured when a shift change with awake personnel saw the previously missed warnings
-The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska – the pilot was drunk but the co-pilot was asleep due to OSA
-The devastating Challenger explosion – caused by a faulty O-ring, which passed inspection by a drowsy inspector, resulting in the death of seven people
In addition to the above-mentioned catastrophes, don’t forget the countless train crashes, semi-truck accidents and airplane crashes seen on TV, heard on the radio, and printed in magazines and newspapers. Despite these publications, the true financial loss is seldom seen in any media outlets. It is simply not world news if your company loses $10,000.00 or even $100,000.00 due to employee tiredness or brain miscalculation.
The US Department of Transportation estimates that 200,000 vehicular accidents with death or serious injury occur each year due to sleepy driving, and even this does not make headlines!
Undiagnosed OSA creates a financial burden – costing an untreated adult about $6,000 on average. Direct economic costs include motor vehicle accidents, healthcare and medication, and also compensating behaviors like abusing alcohol, sleeping pills and stimulants. Indirect economic costs include factors such as stress on home life and personal relationships, and decreased productivity at the workplace. As seen, the economic cost of sleep disorders is disturbing.
On the contrary, the average annual cost for the treatment of OSA is about $2,000 per person. This is why it is so important to promote awareness of OSA and make sure that we are looking out for signs and symptoms associated with it. Here lies the economics of sleep deprivation. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from OSA, please click here to take a sleep test.
People are, by nature, dismissive of the symptoms of sleepiness and the sounds of snoring. They are recognized as normal. Both patients and healthcare providers need to promote awareness that OSA is a chronic disease that needs to be taken seriously. Just like heart disease, it needs to be managed appropriately.
During regular check-ups with your physician, you should discuss any changes in sleep patterns. Many people fail to discuss symptoms of sleep quality. Additionally, doctors should be asking, “How are you sleeping”. Medical school does not emphasize training in Sleep Medicine, and therefore many healthcare providers are not aware of the comorbidities to look for in recognizing OSA. What makes it even more difficult is that people will not accept treatment for something they do not think is a problem. Many adults don’t even remember what a “good night’s sleep” is, or when the last time they had one was.
It is time for everyone to commit themselves to more being more aware of signs and symptoms of OSA. This includes government agencies, healthcare providers and patients being more educated, and health insurance companies ready to reward prevention and see the cost of timely diagnosis and treatment decrease dramatically.
Leaving sleep apnea untreated is like rolling the dice with your life every night. Please visit our website for more information on the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders.
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