feed standing on scale that reads dangerAfter Dr. Klein worked diligently with fellow colleagues, and attended several meetings in Washington, DC (among the efforts of others in the industry), members of the Department of Transportation are definitely seeing the need to regulate the identification and diagnosis of sleep apnea in the people that hold occupations such as driving semi-trucks, flying airplanes, and other professional transportation positions. Legislation went into effect in December that would require pilots with a BMI of 40 or higher to be screened for sleep apnea. Although the new legislation was faced with some resistance as they weren’t sure how to implement such a tactic, it has been decided recently that the FAA must go through the normal rulemaking process before subjecting overweight pilots to sleep apnea screening. Read more about it here: http://www.flyingmag.com/news/Dt88ZUEb6HWK2RWZ.99
Although being overweight can contribute to the likelihood of having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is not fair to say that only overweight people have OSA (click the “Sleep Apnea” tab above for more information). So if the FAA is only screening pilots that are overweight, they could still be missing some employees that could have severe and potentially life-threatening OSA. It also brings up the question about the ethics of only requiring overweight pilots to undergo the testing.
The article states that the testing is expensive and that there is a concern about those expenses associated with this new requirement. While sleep lab studies might be more costly, depending on where they are preformed, at home sleep studies are typically much less expensive and are proving to be a great alternative. While some people speculate that they think the test is better conducted in a lab, others believe that they sleep better at home – providing what they think are more accurate results. As research continues, only time will tell.